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"The Impact of Deforestation on Global Warming"

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“The Impact of Deforestation on Global Warming”

The clearing of tropical forests across the Earth has been occurring on a large scale basis for many centuries. This process, known as deforestation, involves the cutting down, burning, and damaging of forests. The loss of tropical rain forest is more profound than merely destruction of beautiful areas. If the current rate of deforestation continues, the world's rain forests will vanish within 100 years-causing unknown effects on global climate and eliminating the majority of plant and animal species on the planet.

Deforestation occurs in many ways. Most of the clearing is done for agricultural purposes-grazing cattle, planting crops. Poor farmers chop down a small area (typically a few acres) and burn the tree trunks-a process called Slash and Burn agriculture. Intensive, or modern, agriculture occurs on a much larger scale, sometimes deforesting several square miles at a time. Large cattle pastures often replace rain forest to grow beef for the world market.

Our atmosphere works much like a greenhouse. The sun emits short-wave radiation which passes through the atmosphere to Earth. The Earth then radiates some of the sun's energy back into the atmosphere in the form of long-wave infrared radiation. Although nitrogen and

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The process of greenhouse gas increase is quite simple. Carbon dioxide levels increase for a number of reasons; but one of the main factors contributing to the increase of carbon levels is decay of woody material. The only way to help moderate the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is through plant life. Alive plants and trees absorb the carbon dioxide from decaying plants and trees. With a decrease in trees and plant life (due to deforestation) it is much harder to moderate these levels. Ultimately, the amount of carbon will increase due to a lack of plant life present to keep the carbon dioxide levels in check. This whole process leads to an "albedo” effect which reflects more heat and light back into the atmosphere than would be the case if the sun shone on green trees. The bottom line is that the increase in the carbon level and other greenhouse gas levels into the atmosphere leads to an increase in temperature, and eventually a change in climate and weather.

Clearing and burning rainforests releases vast amounts of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. Each year deforestation contributes 23-30 percent of all carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide, in turn, is believed to be responsible for approximately half of global warming.

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Total global food production is not expected to change substantially as a result of climate change, but regional production will probably change dramatically. Some areas will have increasing crop yields. Others will decline, especially in tropical and subtropical regions. The flexibility in crop distribution (the variety of crops that can be grown in a region) is predicted to decline. Developed countries may be better able to adapt to these circumstances. Developing countries, currently struggling with food supply, may suffer even more.

There is no one easy solution as deforestation is caused by many things. One option is decreasing the need for the amount of products that are harvested from the rainforests. If all countries, especially developed ones, enforced programs that used recycling, the need for disposable products would be diminished. The immediate effects of deforestation may not yet be felt, but if this generation doesn’t feel it the next generation and their children will be the ones to suffer. It is the actions of the human race that can make or break the future of the planet. In the end everyone loses unless a solution can be reached. This is easier said than done but the choices that lie ahead on this matter carry severe consequences that will forever change they way that all things live if they are able to live at all.

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