A vicious cycle of climate change and deforestation could wipe out
or severely damage nearly 60 percent of the Amazon forest by 2030,
said the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) at a press conference
held at the Bali International Convention center on Thursday.
From now to 2030, deforestation in the Amazon could release 55.
5 to 96.9 billion tons of CO2. At the upper end this is more than
two years of global greenhouse gas emission, said Dan Nepstad, a
senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center in
Massachusetts, at the press conference.
In addition, the destruction of the Amazon would also do away
with one of the key stabilizers of the global climate system, he
"The importance of the Amazon forest for the globe's climate
cannot be underplayed," said Dan Nepstad, who is also the author of
a new WWF report titled the Amazon's Vicious Cycles: Drought and
Fire in the Greenhouse, which reveals the dramatic consequences for
the local and global climate as well as the impacts on people's
livelihoods in South America.
"It's not only essential for cooling the world's temperature but
also such a large source of freshwater that it may be enough to
influence some of the great ocean currents, and on top of that it's
a massive store of carbon," he said.
He added that current trends in agriculture and livestock
expansion, fire, drought and logging could clear or severely damage
55 percent of the Amazon rainforest by 2030. If, as anticipated by
scientists, rainfall declines 10 percent in the future, then an
additional 4 percent of the forests will be damaged by drought.
Global warming is in fact likely to reduce rainfall in the
Amazon by more than 20 percent, especially in the eastern Amazon,
and local temperatures will increase by more than 2 degrees
centigrade, and perhaps by as much as 8 degrees centigrade, during
the second half of the century, according to the report.
With further destruction of the Amazon forests, less rainfall in
India and Central America is anticipated, as would rainfall during
the growing season in the grain belts of the United States and
Brazil, the scientist said.
He called for strategies to halt deforestation in the Amazon,
include minimizing the negative impacts from cattle ranching and
infrastructure projects to rapidly expanding the existing network
of protected areas.
"We can still stop the destruction of the Amazon, but we need
the support of the rich countries," said Karen Suassuna, a climate
change analyst at WWF-Brazil, at the press conference. "Our success
in protecting the Amazon depends on how fast rich countries reduce
their climate damaging emissions to slow down global warming."
Climate change is initiating and speeding up the vicious circle.
Today, carbon from forest conversion to cattle pastures and
agriculture in the Brazilian Amazon is seeping into the atmosphere
at a rate of 0.2 to 0.3 billion tons per year. This number can
double when severe drought increases forest fires. Emissions from
all Amazon countries are doubling the figures for Brazil.
"The Kyoto Plus climate agreement must include measures to
reduce emissions from forests," said Hans Verolme, director of the
WWF's Global Climate Change Program.
"A failure to protect the Amazon forest will not only be a
disaster for millions of people who live in the Amazon region, but
also for the stability of the world climate," he warned.
Established in 1961, the WWF operates in more than 100 countries
working for a future in which humans live in harmony with
(Xinhua News Agency December 6, 2007)