In Brazil’s Mato Grosso state, the Soybean Highway cuts across farmland that had been Amazon rain forest a few decades ago.
Image courtesy of John Stanmeyer, National Geographic Creative
|TLDR||Norway fulfills $1 billion pledge to Brazil for slowing Amazon deforestation|
Seven years ago, Norway made a deal with the government of Brazil to help save the Amazon. The Norwegian government promised that if Brazil (home to the majority of the remaining Amazon rainforest) could slow deforestation of the world’s largest rainforest, then the Scandinavian country would pay the Brazilian government $1 billion.
Since 2008, Brazil has been hard at work to live up to their end of the deal. Through public policy, law enforcement, education, and refusing to loan money to provinces responsible for the destruction of the forest, South America’s largest country has managed to cut deforestation by 75%, keep 3.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and save an estimated 33,000 square miles of rainforest from being destroyed.
Globally, deforestation is responsible for about 10 percent of all climate emissions, says a study released by the Union of Concerned Scientists. That’s down from 17 percent of emissions in the 1990s, thanks to falling rates of deforestation.
Norway, one of the world’s wealthiest nations, has made its riches from its abundance of oil and gas. Oil and gas, of course, are fossil fuels which convert into carbon dioxide when combusted as an energy source. These carbon dioxide emissions are a leading contributor to climate change. But through this landmark deal, Norway has begun to make amends for its climate injustice. Brazil, also long thought of as an enemy of the environment and contributor to climate change, is clearly ready to change its image.
A healthy and abundant rainforest such as the Amazon has profound effects on local wildlife, tribes, and the planet as a whole. Tropical rainforests are home to an incredible 50% of all species on Earth. Destroying these forests can and has already caused entire species to go extinct. Additionally, incredibly dense tropical rainforests lining the equator are responsible for pulling a tremendous amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide (CO2), after all, is what trees use to produce oxygen (O2). But through deforestation, we lose this CO2→O2 productivity and pour CO2 into the atmosphere in the process via gas-powered logging and construction machinery.
Let’s hope to see more international collaboration in the future to further preserve wildlife biodiversity and remediate climate change.