The Royal Statistical Society announced its winner on December 23rd for the statistic of the decade. The winning statistic is how the Amazon lost 8.4 million soccer fields. This is the equivalent of 10.3 million football fields in America.
Not a sports fan? Don’t worry, another way to put it is that the Amazon lost the equivalent of Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New Jersy in the last 10 years.
The Amazon rainforest has a fitting nickname, the lungs of the planet, and our lungs are shrinking. The disappearance of this forest is not only an issue for the unique wildlife that resides in it but a serious problem for climate change.
This is because the Amazon absorbs 2 billion tons of carbon each year. That’s 5% of global emissions. Without the Amazon, it will become impossible to meet climate goals.
What is Destroying the Amazon Rainforest?
The driving factor behind the Amazon’s shrinkage is Brazil’s economic growth.
Farms, ranching, and other economically profitable business ventures clear miles of land for use. However, these are short term gains. The repercussions from climate change will make these decisions detrimental not only to those businesses but for the rest of the world as well.
This is because farmland will become less fertile, certain species of plants will have trouble growing at higher temperatures, water will become more scarce, and hundreds of other impacts will be felt.
A Brief History of the Amazon’s Deforestation
Although the statistic was for the last decade, deforestation within the Amazon has been occurring for many years.
In the 1970s, deforestation really began to progress. This continued for close to 25 years when it reached its peak in 1995 as 29.059 km2 of the forest was lost in a single year.
However, a decline took place in the following years all the way to 2012. Unfortunately since then, it has once again accelerated.
2019 has been a particularly devastating year for the Amazon due to rampant fires started by farmers, ranchers, and others to clear land fast. This growth is driven by the newly elected President, Jair Bolsonaro.
The Amazon Rainforest Needs Protection
The Amazon rainforest produces 20% of the world’s oxygen and absorbs vast amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It is important to the planet and its destruction will, in turn, mean ours as well.
However, it is not too late to prevent it. If we don’t, the climate goals of the Paris Agreement will be unattainable.