Good article, good maps. Some reasons for optimism, for a change.
The article focuses on Costa Rica and Brazil, as success stories, and on Indonesia, as a success story in the making. What the article doesn’t do is focus on Canada and how Canada is destroying thousands of acres of boreal forests so that the oil companies get can at the tar sands goo. Or on Appalachia where forests are being leveled so coal companies can blow up the mountains to get to the coal. So, before we start acting “holier-than-thou” when we read about third-world countries, let’s first not forget how foolish we are.
In the battle to limit the risks of climate change, it has been clear for decades that focusing on the world’s immense tropical forests — saving the ones that are left, and perhaps letting new ones grow — is the single most promising near-term strategy.
That is because of the large role that forests play in what is called the carbon cycle of the planet. Trees pull the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, out of the air and lock the carbon away in their wood and in the soil beneath them. Destroying them, typically by burning, pumps much of the carbon back into the air, contributing to climate change.
Over time, humans have cut down or damaged at least three-quarters of the world’s forests, and that destruction has accounted for much of the excess carbon that is warming the planet.
But now, driven by a growing environmental movement in countries that are home to tropical forests, and by mounting pressure from Western consumers who care about sustainable practices, corporate and government leaders are making a fresh push to slow the cutting — and eventually to halt it. In addition, plans are being made by some of those same leaders to encourage forest regrowth on such a giant scale that it might actually pull a sizable fraction of human-released carbon dioxide out of the air and lock it into long-term storage.