National Geographic: The Future Of Forests

Earth has lost a third of its forests over the past 10,000 years—half of that just since 1900. Globally, deforestation has decreased from its peak in the 1980s, but trends vary by region. Now fossil fuel emissions spewing from coal plants and tailpipes are rearranging forests in other consequential ways. Trees are growing faster as they soak up excess CO2—a key ingredient for photosynthesis. That “greening” of the planet has so far helped slow climate change, protecting us from ourselves. But climate change also is killing trees. And what has forest scientists increasingly uneasy is the quickening pulse of extreme events—fire, more powerful storms, insect infestations, and, most notably, severe heat and drought, which can worsen the effects of all the rest. It’s time we embraced our new reality. We can no longer forestall rapid changes to some forests. The planet won’t stop warming until we completely halt fossil fuel emissions, and that will take decades. Stabilizing emissions closer to two degrees or less could limit forest losses. Many forests in the world will never be the same. But they might be close.

By Craig Welch. National Geographic. April 16, 2022.

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