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article imageAmazon rainforest - 'The tipping point is here, it is now'

By Karen Graham     Dec 20, 2019 in Environment
Leading rainforest scientists Thomas Lovejoy and Carlos Nobre warned in an editorial published Thursday that deforestation in the world's largest rainforest has led the Amazon to the brink of an irreversible process called "dieback."
In an editorial in the journal, Science Advances, the two scientists, one American and one, Brazilian - wrote that they fear the Amazon rainforest has reached a catastrophic tipping point.
For the first 11 months of 2019 - also the first months in office of Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right leader who has eased restrictions on exploiting the Amazon's vast riches - deforestation in the Amazon totaled 8,974.3 square kilometers, or double the 2018 totals, based on data collected by the satellite-based DETER system, which monitors deforestation in real-time.
In November this year, deforestation surged with 563 square kilometers (217 square miles) deforested - the highest level since 2015. This is considered a significant increase, particularly during the rainy season, when deforestation generally slows.
Brazilian farmer Helio Lombardo Do Santos and a dog walk through a burnt area of the Amazon rainfore...
Brazilian farmer Helio Lombardo Do Santos and a dog walk through a burnt area of the Amazon rainforest, near Porto Velho, Rondonia state, Brazil, on August 26, 2019
The tipping point," for which there is no return, would turn the Amazon rainforest into an African-savanna-type landscape. This is due to an irreversible process called "dieback." In their editorial, the scientists write: "The loss of forest will lead to staggering losses of biodiversity, carbon, and, in turn, human well-being. In addition, although deforestation anywhere in the Amazon diminishes its hydrological cycle, what happens in the Brazilian Amazon is particularly important because of the sensitivity of that part of the forest to incremental and cumulative impacts of vegetative decline from dieback."
Many people might not realize this, but rainfall in the Amazon does affect our rainfall in the United States. If and when the Amazon becomes totally deforested, rainfall in Texas would drop by 25 percent, the Sierra Nevada snowpack would be cut in half and the Northeast of the country would see their rainfall diminish by about 20 percent, according to Business Insider.
Global tipping point
It is not just the Amazon rainforest that has reached a tipping point, but the planet - as a whole. Digital Journal reported on this on November 28, just days before the COP25 climate meeting in Madrid, Spain.
An aerial view of trucks queueing on the BR163 in Brazil's Para state -- one of two major trans...
An aerial view of trucks queueing on the BR163 in Brazil's Para state -- one of two major transport routes that have played a key role in the development and destruction of the Amazon, the world's largest rainforest
And just like the scientists last month, talking about the irreversible changes to the Earth's environmental systems that are already taking place, the two Amazon rainforest scientists are saying the same thing about the rainforest. They write: "Already, there are ominous signals of it in nature. Dry seasons in Amazonian regions are already hotter and longer. Mortality rates of wet climate species are increased, whereas dry climate species are showing resilience. The increasing frequency of unprecedented droughts in 2005, 2010, and 2015/16 is signaling that the tipping point is at hand."
The scientists also talk about the people of the world creating a new vision of the Amazon, one that does away with the monoculture system currently being used. "The economic potential held untapped in the Amazon ranges from sustainable aquaculture that lifts Amazon fish to the same global status as salmon, tuna, or codfish to industries based on the molecular properties of the extraordinary biodiversity," according to the editorial.
We don't have a lot of time, folks, to fix things and ensure a world for future generations. If we can't even agree on a carbon tax, and with leaders that don't take the climate crisis seriously, - we really don't want to see the alternative, do we?
More about Amazon rain forest, Deforestation, Tipping point, dieback, Climate crisis
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