CAUSE FOR THOUGHT: THE EFFECTS OF DEFORESTATION IN THE AMAZON
Updated: May 14, 2021
We’d like to introduce the ‘Cause for thought’ section of our blog. Each week we will post the latest information about ongoing environmental and social crises around the world. Our goal is for companies to read, consider, and be made aware of the causes they could potentially support.
When it comes to looking at huge global problems in the world, it’s sometimes best to break it down into smaller contributing factors in order for your company to find a solution you can get behind. Now climate change is obviously one of these serious ongoing problems, so the focus we are going to look at is how the effects of deforestation in the Amazon are dramatically contributing to rising CO2 levels.
The Brazilian Amazon released nearly 20 percent more CO2 into the atmosphere over the last decade than it absorbed, according to a stunning report that shows humanity can no longer depend on the world's largest tropical forest to help absorb manmade carbon pollution.
From 2010 through 2019, Brazil's Amazon basin gave off 16.6 billion tonnes of CO2, while drawing down only 13.9 billion tonnes, researchers reported in the journal Nature Climate Change. The study looked at the volume of CO2 absorbed and stored as the rainforest grows, versus the amounts released back into the atmosphere as it has been burned down or destroyed.
"We half-expected it, but it is the first time that we have figures showing that the Brazilian Amazon has flipped, and is now a net emitter," said co-author Jean-Pierre Wigneron, a scientist at France's National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA).
"We don't know at what point the changeover could become irreversible," he told AFP in an interview.
The study also showed that deforestation—through fires and clear-cutting—increased nearly four-fold in 2019 compared to either of the two previous years, from about one million hectares (2.5 million acres) to 3.9 million hectares, an area the size of the Netherlands.
"Brazil saw a sharp decline in the application of environmental protection policies after the change of government in 2019," the INRA said in a statement.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was sworn into office on January 1, 2019.
Terrestrial ecosystems worldwide have been a crucial ally as the world struggles to curb CO2 emissions, which topped 40 billion tonnes in 2019. Over the last half-century, plants and soil have consistently absorbed about 30 percent of those emissions, even as those emissions increased by 50 percent over that period. Oceans have also helped, soaking up more than 20 percent.
The Amazon basin contains about half of the world's tropical rainforests, which are more effective at soaking up and storing carbon than other types of vegetation. If the region were to become a net source rather than a "sink" of CO2, tackling the climate crisis will be that much harder.
Using new methods of analysing satellite data developed at the University of Oklahoma, the international team of researchers also showed for the first time that degraded forests were a more significant source of planet-warming CO2 emissions than outright deforestation.
Over the same 10-year period, degradation—caused by fragmentation, selective cutting, or fires that damage but do not destroy trees—caused three times more emissions than outright destruction of forests.
Climate change looms as a major threat, and could—above a certain threshold of global warming—see the continent's rainforest tip into a much drier savannah state. This would have devastating consequences not only to the region, which currently harbours a significant percentage of the world's biodiversity but globally as well.
So why should companies align supporting an environmental cause into their wider marketing and business strategy?
Well, environmental issues have been of major concern in recent years, and have caused consumers to think more critically about the origins, content, and manufacturing processes of the products they buy. Therefore waste, packaging, sustainability, and climate change play a pivotal role in the change of the environmental landscape for organisations. Therefore, an organisation’s focus should not only be on maximising profits but also carrying out its operations in a manner suitable for both the environment and society. So ask yourselves these questions:
How can I integrate supporting this cause into my social media strategy to enhance my audience's engagement with my brand?
How can I put environmental well-being at the heart of my business and help fight the plight of deforestation in the Amazon?
How can my organisation, whether directly or indirectly, minimise the environmental impact of deforestation and its effect on climate change?
If you're interested in finding out more about integrating supporting a cause into your social media strategy, please give us a shout and we’ll be happy to go through the finer points with you.
Click Ethical blog squad
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