Deforestation in Brazil threatens world’s biggest rainforest

World Today

Deforestation in Brazil threatens world's biggest rainforest

Brazil is in the midst of political unrest, and some suggest the days of the current government could be numbered. So could the days of the Amazon.

It’s the so-called ‘lungs of the world,’ as the rainforest produces 20-percent of earth’s oxygen. But, Brazil’s Congress is debating removing forest protections on nearly 600-thousand hectares. This as deforestation has jumped 30-percent in a year.

CGTN’s Lucrecia Franco reports.

Fires burning in the Amazon rainforest are back. Deforestation for cattle grazing and agriculture could reverse all the progress Brazil made in cutting carbon emissions in the last decade.

Data published in the U.S. scientific journal, “Science,” showed that Brazil slashed the amount of deforestation by 72 percent between 2004 and 2016; reducing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

However, the latest report from the Brazilian Agency that monitors deforestation was gloomy. Between July 2015 and August 2016 loggers cleared over 7,900 square kilometers of Brazilian rain forest, an area nearly the size of Puerto Rico.

Some critics argue that Brazil needs to urgently halt deforestation to help the planet. “At least half of Brazil’s carbon emissions come from deforestation. So if we stop deforestation here in Brazil that would be a major contribution to reduce carbon emissions-not only in the country but also in the planet,” said Fabio Rubio Scarano, Executive Director at the Brazilian Foundation for Sustainable Development.

The Amazon rainforest has been called the “Lungs of the World,” producing a fifth of the world’s oxygen, but it continues to shrink. Non-profit groups warn that rainforests could completely vanish in 100 years if current deforestation rates continue.

“The issue is that there is a number of scientific evidence and models that indicate that if the Amazonia deforestation goes beyond 20% to 30% of the total area, this might drive the Amazonia to a tipping point that would be a point of change were the whole biosphere could perhaps turn into savanna, becoming drier, and if that happens this is going to have a major effect on global climate,” said Scarano.

Brazil had promised to reduce carbon emissions up to 43 percent by 2030, but instead it grew 3.5% in 2015 according to the Climate Observatory, a group of Brazil’s top environmental NGO’s.

Despite Brazil’s own problems to tackle deforestation and emissions, the country expressed profound disappointment with U.S. President Trump’s decision to exit the Paris climate agreement, saying it was seriously concerned with the negative impact to respond to global changes