A new study exposes how deforestation, climate change, and other factors could push the Amazon rainforest, the planet’s lungs, beyond the point of no return.
The world’s forests are shrinking, the Amazon is on the front lines. According to a new study published in the journal Science Advances, 17% of the Amazon rainforest would have disappeared in the last 50 years. If we reach the 20% threshold, the situation could be catastrophic. This is the warning of two researchers, the Brazilian Carlos Nobre and the American Thomas Lovejoy, who set out to concretely establish this “tipping point”.
“If the climate continues to change, due to deforestation or global warming, there is more than 50% chance that the Amazonian forest will become a savannah,” says Nobel Prize winner Carlos Nobre in 2017, who points out that the conservatives in power who are in favor of the agri-food lobby are responsible for deforestation. “Representative democracy no longer works in Brazil. The majority of the Brazilian population wants the Amazon to be preserved. Yet no political action is taken in this direction,” he points out.
While deforestation and degradation by fire – which feed human activities (mining, agriculture, energy and transport infrastructure) – pose an imminent and serious risk to the rainforest, it is not the only threat to these ecosystems. Climate change also plays a major role. Rising temperatures and decreasing rainfall are causing major droughts (in 2005 and 2010, the Amazon suffered the worst droughts of the last hundred years). These dry up rivers, decimate fish populations and cause forest fires, causing major changes in the composition of ecosystems.
In addition, the degradation of the water cycle has a severe impact on the human population in South America. In addition to hosting 50 to 70% of the world’s biodiversity and the largest watershed on the planet, this territory hosts 30 million people still living for the most part of the services provided by the Amazonian nature.