Researchers working in the Amazon rainforest are sounding an urgent alarm.
There is a very real possibility that the world’s largest tropical rainforest is steadily moving towards a critical point – something that bodes ill for the ongoing environmental crisis.
Environmental scientists pointed out that the Amazon is rapidly losing the ability to bounce back from various forms of damage. It has been battling a triple threat of extensive droughts, wildfires, and rampant deforestation for the past several years.
What’s going in in the Amazon?
Indeed, experts say that trees may die off in large numbers within the current decade, transforming large areas of the region into sparsely forested savannah terrain. This is a dangerous possibility as savannahs are not as effective or efficient as heavily forested areas in drawing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Researchers also noted that several areas within the Amazon are emitting more carbon dioxide than the trees can properly absorb.
Dr. Bonnie Waring, a member of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and Environment at the Imperial College London, opines that the findings are consistent with a mounting body of evidence. Specifically, climate change, human exploitation, and negligence are wreaking havoc on the Amazon terrain and its rich biodiversity, home to at least one of every ten species known to science.
The findings could not have come at a more critical time. Even as numerous world leaders have pledged to end deforestation by 2030, it was noted that the Amazon sustained its highest rates of deforestation in January of this year.
Thirty years of devastation
The information gleaned from nearly three decades of satellite data previously published in the journal Nature Climate Change shows that the Amazon’s health is approaching a highly critical state, particularly in that over 75% of the rainforest is no longer as resilient as it should be.
Trees are barely recovering from drought conditions, which has been complicated by climate change and how humans have been destroying vast tracts of the region through logging operations and fires caused by negligence.
As of the end of 2021, nearly a fifth of the Amazon rainforest has been lost beyond recovery – and the bad news does not end there. Scientists worry that, once the Amazon reaches this point of no return, much of its land area will be reduced to arid savannah in mere decades.