ENDANGERED FOREST, ENDANGERED CLIMATE
1.Causal effect and interaction between forest and climate
We have all heard about the close connection between forest and climate. The action of forest on precipitations, the evaporation created, the role of forest in capturing rains run off in a perpetual local and worldwide cycle. At a time when water is already considered “white gold” in a number of regions, where States are ready to wage wars to ensure their access to water, where political forecast insist on this growing water related conflict in the coming decades, the consequence of deforestation on the water cycle at a worldwide level seems overlooked compared to short term economics or political problem.
Are Northern countries immune from the consequences of the fast paced Southern deforestation? Even though scientific assessment are not easy, studies have proven that deforestation in Central America impacts directly precipitations and the climate of the whole Gulf of Mexico area, including Texas (among these studies, the GPCP, Global Precipitation Climatology Project). More surprising, the African deforestation impacts the precipitation level of the American MidWest and Chinese and the Balkans climate are perturbed by logging activity in South East Asia. Strong variations of precipitation level generate floods or droughts depending on the regions. Logging participates to global warming (Co2 generation, deforestation) and disturbs other activities heavily affected by extreme weather conditions (floods, droughts).
Rain forests the thermal regulator of the planet, two third of worldwide precipitations fall on their leaves might not be in position to keep playing their regulating role where water gets converted in vapor and reciprocally in a cycle gathering and liberating heat alternatively. By capturing less heat and by liberating it, the atmospheric pressure is affected at a planet level as well as the usual air streams creating storms of an amplified scale and in regions usually not affected. Very heart of the planetary climate regulation system, the Amazonian basin impacts hurricanes in the Caribbean and in the Gulf of Mexico (Source : http://www.notre-planete.info)
2. 1.Aggravation of the greenhouse effect:
Emissions of greenhouse gases have been studied and its consequences widely diffused among the public and governments especially since the Kyoto protocol in 1997. Since the end of the 18th century, the greenhouse effect is demonstrated under its natural form as an average global warming under the effect of infrared radiation partly captured by a number of gases present in the atmosphere in growing proportions. Hence rays emitted by the Earth reverberating part of Solar light are partially captured and contribute to global warming, originally a natural process enabling life on Earth.
The growing emission of greenhouse gas due to human activities has been first reported in 1896. But during most of the 20th century we did not imagine it could trigger a global climate change. In 1988, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been created. In 2005 a study demonstrated the concentration of greenhouse gas effect has never been that high for the last 650 000 years.
Water vapor, methane, Co2, N2o, ozone are the main greenhouse gas. They are gas made of several atoms (at least 3) interacting with infrared rays, whereas molecules made of two atoms, composing 99% of the atmosphere have no impact on these rays. Clouds are at the same time a barrier against direct solar rays striking the Earth and a barrier after those have been reverberated on the Planet.
(voir article sur www.notre-planete.info)
For a decade, scientists affirm the growing greenhouse effect is mostly at the origin of the climate change already initiated. This climate modification bears economic, political and social consequences. Some effects remain subtle or indirect. Others are more noticeable like the prolonged water temperature rise in the Indian Ocean whitening corals in 1997 and causing its death a year later. No need to remind the 16 000 people who died in France in August 2003 due to a heat wave, or the two storms hitting France in 1999. Since 1979 the arctic ice lost 40% of its thickness. At such a pace and taking into account the growing consumption of fossil energy in emerging countries, temperature shall very likely reach the one during the Cretacean era 80 million years ago. Not only its consequences will be catastrophic but it is foreseen that it could not be reversed nor by man, nor by nature.
Because deforestation accounts for 15 to 20% of greenhouse gas effect, the protocol imagined an alternative for industry emitting Co2. They can be granted more Co2 credit by financing reforestation or prevention of deforestation projects. But this option remains marginal at this stage.
Natarajan Ishwaran, head of the UNESCO ecological science department states it will be necessary to combine objectives to make the carbon dioxide sink more attractive (source: le Monde, 20/03/2006, page 7). Protection of biodiversity, production of biogas and local development could be added.
At the end of 2005, States with prime forests have reacted positively during the Montreal Conference and projects could be launched by the UNESCO in the Amazonas.
Finally it appears important to repeat there will be no significant change regarding green house gas reduction and protection of biodiversity without a common awareness and change in consumption habit, on top of governmental actions. This responsibility we all share is yet to be spread…