Global Deforestation from Insects, Disease, Wildfire, Drought Kill – Dwarf Emissions from Third World Agriculture Deforestation

By May 4, 2011 February 16th, 2013 Forest Mortality

The World Wildlife Fund says that we could lose 57 billion acres of forest to development and agriculture by 2050. There is NO mention of loss of forests due to climate change in their new report. Even though, 64 million acres are dead from a climate change induced insect attack in the North American Rockies.

Alaskan Boreal forests have already switched from a carbon sink to a carbon source because of fire.  The fire is burning the drought dried soils causing an annual carbon emissions of 14.1 megatons. This is expected to increase 200% to 300% by 2050 to 2100, but scientist say that if warming continues to melt permafrost, this amount will increase dramatically as drained permafrost areas burn which in turn, will accelerate more permafrost melt in a positive feedback that the authors say has significant implications for greenhouse gas emissions in northern regions. (see here)

The North American pine beetle pandemic is still out of control.  Canadian foresters calculated that just the dead trees in British Columbia would emit nearly 16 megatons of carbon per year for twenty years. If it is too warm for these forests to regenerate after twenty years, all bets are off on these forests ever absorbing Carbon dioxide again (in time frames that matter, like centuries.)

Annual C emissions from deforestation are about 1.4 gigatons, so if the Alaskan forests double or triple or worse, and we consider that the Alaskan Boreal is less than a tenth of global boreal forests and the same thing is going on around the globe, we get 300 or 400 megatons of C emitted.  The pine beetle pandemic has likely doubled it’s emissions and it will keep on doubling for decades to come, so add another 100 or 200 megatons.  The total is more than a third of emissions from global deforestation.

Unless one includes what could be the biggest climate change impact yet.  it dwarfs global emissions from deforestation. The Amazon has flipped form sink to source. Every year for the next decade or so, the Amazon will emit 3.5 gigatons of carbon, nearly triple the emissions from deforestation. This flip has been caused by two 100-year droughts in 2005 and 2010.  The author of the paper documenting this discovery says that if we have another of these droughts in the next ten years, and the predictions seem to indicate this is more likely than not, the Amazon may never return to a carbon sink again.

So why is this news not in the WWF report? What does the worlds environmental organizations continue to ignore the ongoing climate impacts that literally dwarf the impacts and environmental issues of the 20th century? This is 1998 no longer. Please pay attention. it no longer matters how bad deforestation is in Rawanda. Climate change impacts that were reserved for the distant future are happening now, right under our favorite environmental organizations collective noses.  Please. Get an eff-ing grip.

World Wildlife Fund: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation (link)

World Wildlife Fund: Zero Net Deforestation (link)