Over time, the earth experiences natural periods of climate change with extreme examples such as ice ages occurring. However, in today’s world we’re experiencing a different kind of climate change that is more rapid and man-made.
One of the major reasons for climate change is the “greenhouse effect” which is a heating of the earth’s atmosphere due to higher levels of gasses (like CO²) being present and trapping the sun’s radiation. Normally, these gases are always present but are absorbed by organic filters like trees and algae. These filters used to be plentiful but because of human interference, they have been cut down or become too polluted to absorb the gases.
The Amazon rainforest is the biggest source of oxygen in the world but 20% of it has already been lost, mainly because of land-clearing for cattle grazing. This is not the result of a single country’s actions but rather shows how much we as humans consume in order to produce food, fuel and more.
This land-clearing also has devastating consequences for the earth’s wildlife and plants. Entire ecosystems are destroyed when a forest is burned down and certain organisms, like polyps on coral reefs, cannot handle the increase in the ocean’s temperature. These organisms die off, giving the coral a bleached look. It’s estimated that 51% of the world’s reefs have already been affected with the major damage being to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
Another aspect of deforestation is the clearing land because of overpopulation. We have no choice but to make more space as the earth needs to accommodate more people. Although, this does not have to involve deforestation.
We can curb the impact that big industries have on the world’s forests and oxygen supply. This is already happening with eco-friendly building materials that use less wood and encourage more growth. Other innovations include machinery that is able to cut down trees without destroying the entire area of forest.
You can also have an effect on the wellbeing of our forests by planting more trees around your home and joining a reforestation project. These projects aim to repopulate an area where deforestation has occured with indigenous trees that will flourish and eventually take over the land again.
These are some initiatives that you can join or donate to which are making a difference around the world:
You can also read more about the theory of “rewilding” in the fight against climate change in our rewilding blog post.