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Over Half of the World’s Tropical Forests Have been Destroyed

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UN Biodiversity Conference in progress in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. The conference ends November 29. Credit: International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt, Nov 28 2018 (IPS) – Biodiversity conservationists have revealed that at least 10 more percent of land than what is currently being used to grow green crops will be required to successfully replace fossil fuels with alternatives derived from natural sources such as biofuel.

Speaking to government ministers and other high level representatives at the ongoing Biodiversity Conference in Egypt, Anne Larigauderie, executive secretary of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), said that the increase in the need for land for energy-related uses could undermine natural habitats across the world.

Deforestation and forest degradation are one of the biggest threats to forests worldwide and, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in the last 60 years, over half of the tropical forests worldwide have been destroyed.

Currently, one of the biggest drivers of deforestation is the meat industry with over 2.71 million hectares of tropical forests destroyed to pasture for beef cattle every year. To put it into perspective, this is more than half of tropical deforestation in South America, and more than five times as much as any other commodity in the region. Other significant drivers also include wood products, soybeans, and palm oil.

“Degradation and loss of forests threatens the survival of many species, and reduces the ability of forests to provide essential services,” states Larigauderie. “And an increase in the need for more land could have devastating impacts that undermine the essential diversity of species on Earth.”

Established by 130 member governments in 2012, IPBES is an independent intergovernmental body that provides objective scientific assessments regarding the planet’s biodiversity to global policymakers – similar to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that was established 30 years ago.

During a panel discussion, Larigauderie said IPCC’s latest report gives a sense of “extreme urgency” on “tradeoffs and synergies between climate, biodiversity and land degradation.”

While it is uncertain just how much land is currently being used for biofuel crops, several researches estimate it lies between 15 and 30 million hectares. Meanwhile, IPCC predicts an increase of up to 744 million hectares in the land area needed to grow biofuel crops to slow down global warming.

“Where would this huge amount of new land come from?” asked Larigauderie. “Is there currently such a large amount of ‘marginal land’ available or would this compete with biodiversity?”

‘Marginal land’ refers to areas of land that have little to no agricultural potential because of poor soil or other undesirable characteristics.

Scientific studies on the better use of marginal lands have been going on for nearly two decades and studies show that marginal lands represent significant untapped resources to grow plants specifically used for biofuel production.

But some scientists also argue that there is not enough marginal land left to grow enough biofuels to significantly replace fossil fuels.

Larigauderie pointed out that the important issue of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities which drives up global warming needs to be addressed but relying on biofuels as a replacement for fossil fuels will almost certainly result in an increase in the demand for land which will have negative consequences on biodiversity – and consequently, carbon dioxide emissions.

Land ecosystems today soak up about a third of annual carbon dioxide emissions, with the world’s oceans accounting for about another quarter annually.

“Reforestation and safeguarding plant and animal species is far better at protecting the climate than most biofuel crops,” she stated. ““All methods that produce healthier ecosystems should be promoted as a way to combat climate change.”

IPBES intends to publish a primer detailing elements of its Global Assessment of Biodiversity in May 2019.

IPS



22 Comments on "Over Half of the World’s Tropical Forests Have been Destroyed"

  1. claes on Thu, 6th Dec 2018 11:59 am 

    Humans in great numbers are a pest to the world. A pest to them selves and a pest to the environment. But how did we get into this situation. Basically because of two factors : Huge decline in child mortality, and a great increase in cheap energy that has paved the way for overpopulation all over the world.
    But there is no way you can convince people to willingly abandon any of these two extreme goods in life, so what to do if necessity calls for action upon overpopulation?

    Techno optimists say we will eventually solve the problem.
    Techno pessimists say SOME OF US will solve the problem, while the majority will not.
    Doomers say the problem is by now unsolvable, and humanity is bound to go extinct.
    Some religious people say this is just the way the scripture said it would be, AKA the rapture/doomsday.
    Most people though, don’t think it’s that bad when it comes to it. Maybe Times get tough for a while but we’ll get over it. after all there are tendencies in the world that population growth is declining after 2050, but will it?
    I can’t see humanity agreeing on any uniform policy that would stop human overshoot or over use of fossile fuels.
    So good luck everybody, I’m prepping for the worst.

  2. Cloggie on Thu, 6th Dec 2018 1:00 pm 

    These Davos People sure know how to pick their gathering location!

    I once visited the Four Seasons there with my wife. The resort had a special package on offer, since a few weeks earlier, 88 tourists had been slaughtered at the hands of these oh so identitarian and very scenic Muslim fundamentalists:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2005_Sharm_El_Sheikh_bombings

    I like my vacations to have a whiff of adventure and the stiff discount was well appreciated. This was the only hotel I ever visited where the personnel insisted on carrying your plate from the buffet to your table. It was in those days that I began to view slavery with different eyes.

  3. Dredd on Thu, 6th Dec 2018 1:05 pm 

    “Over Half of the World’s Tropical Forests Have been Destroyed”

    Its the (New World Odor) at work.

  4. claes on Thu, 6th Dec 2018 1:24 pm 

    When the black death/pest hit europe and killed 1/2 to 3/4 of the population within a few years, you would have expected the european civilization to have collapsed. It did not. The majority of the survivers got richer in all ways. You didn’t have to grow marginal lands but could settle for all the fertile farms. There was a lot of ownerless domestic animals. Tools, buildings, ships were all in overshoot and the only thing that was in great demand was workers and taxpayers. Workers payment rose to the great dismay of the nobility, but with the eventual result that farming practices evolved to be much more efficient. It is hard to se that the “great die off” was a negative thing for the people as such at the time. Another quite different thing was that the nobility bougth up abandoned land and villages at a very low price making the basis for coming great estates that later again enslaved the common people in a feudal system. But there you go.
    I think that a great die off would be a great materialistic benefit for all survivers in the world to day
    The mournings and sufferings would soon be forgotten by the following generations, just like we tend to forget the horrors of the”great” wars, and instead we glorify them in movies and digital wargames. Mans memory is short

  5. Davy on Thu, 6th Dec 2018 5:55 pm 

    “When the black death/pest hit Europe and killed 1/2 to 3/4 of the population within a few years, you would have expected the European civilization to have collapsed. It did not.”
    That was a very different time with relatively sustainable living arrangements with people educated and acclimated to subsistence agriculture and basic trades. Today the majority of people have no survival skills without modernism

    “ The majority of the survivors got richer in all ways. You didn’t have to grow marginal lands but could settle for all the fertile farms. There was a lot of ownerless domestic animals. Tools, buildings, ships were all in overshoot and the only thing that was in great demand was workers and taxpayers.”
    If we lose ½-3/4 of the population quickly this will be a very messy affair both in regards to society and the environment. Modern man has so many hidden time bombs everywhere. Dirty technological creations that will be unattended. I think you are romanticizing this way too much.

    “I think that a great die off would be a great materialistic benefit for all survivers in the world to day”
    Maybe in some places but I would take a stab at it and say 85% of the survivors will not see material benefit. Most will be forced into impoverishment that they have no skills to deal with.

  6. claes on Thu, 6th Dec 2018 7:48 pm 

    I’m not talking about the 85% of the survivors that can’t really cope. I’m talking about the last 15% that actually survives, and for those life would be easier. Maybe the clans out in the bushes if you know what I mean.

  7. Free Speech Message Board on Thu, 6th Dec 2018 9:35 pm 

    The US is an immoral bankrupt warmongering police state.

    The cracks are showing. Even normal people are going crazy.

    Bankers and insurance agents have an exaggerated laugh.

    Old men either have a sense of humor or are angry.

    Young people are apathetic.

    Girls are either fat or are sluts.

    Everything is fake.

    Doctors say dangerous drugs are safe.

    Ivy League MBA’s say endless debt is a sustainable economic policy.

    Professors say worthless degrees are valuable.

    The US is supposed to be a free country, but now is a police state.

    The USA used to believe in peace, but now is a warmonger.

    The US used to have morals, but is now immoral.

    Jobs are being offshored, illegal immigrants and refugees are flooding the country, Wall Street fraud is rewarded with billion dollar bailouts, and the homeless are being arrested.

    Americans blame Obama for destroying the US with wars, debt, and tyranny and say Trump is a holy god for supporting wars, debt, and the police state.

    Americans used to fight Nazis and Commies, but now have become Nazis and Commies.

    Americans say North Korea is immoral for having torture and nuclear weapons, but the USA also tortures and has nuclear bombs.

    The government is destroying the US, but Americans scream that they need more government.

    Americans are so enslaved that they insist taxes are too low.

    Americans don’t want to hear about government abuse and want truth-tellers to be censored and banned.

    WTF?

  8. This is JuanP on Thu, 6th Dec 2018 11:39 pm 

    Free Speech Message Board,

    We don’t want you in my country anymore. Go back to wherever you came from, commie.

  9. boney joe on Thu, 6th Dec 2018 11:57 pm 

    @ Free Speech Message Board

    That’s it in a nutshell.

  10. Chrome Mags on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 2:03 am 

    1/2 the tropical forests gone
    Flying insect die off
    Birds die off
    Some shark species near extinction
    oceans acidifying
    Human population keeps rising
    Arctic ice volume decline
    Meandering jet streams/stalling weather
    Wild fish declines
    6th mass extinction event
    More CO2 emissions than last year
    Wild fires that easily get out of control
    Economy must grow at any expense
    Debt bubble at historic level
    Methane emissions keep rising
    Fukushima dumping radioactive water into Pacific
    Renewables cannot stay ahead of increase in CO2 emissions
    Fertility rates dropping
    Ignoring warnings on GW
    Ignoring warnings on oil depletion faster than discoveries

    It would seem the net effect of who we are is no different than yeast, relentlessly consuming without regard for where it is leading us. All we seem to know is we want what we want, and what we want is MORE.

  11. The Truth Shall Set You Free on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 3:55 am 

    Have you ever wondered what explains the cult like reverence of “Davy”, “Antius”, “Cloggie” and most members of the Republican party for Dear Leader Trump? We now have a working hypothesis. Researchers from Columbia and New York University examined voting patterns by geographic area with internet search term frequency. The study results pointed to a strong positive correlation between support for Trump and particular internet search topics. The results were shocking, although logical.

    Trump’s base support comes from older White males who suffer from Fragile (Toxic) Masculinity Syndrome.

    The following internet search terms had the strongest positive correlation with support for Trump:

    • “How to get girls”;
    • “Penis enlargement”;
    • “Penis size”;
    • “Errectile Dysfunction”;
    • “Hair Loss”;
    • “Steriods”; “
    • Testosterone”;
    • “Viagra”.

    Trump ditto-heads lack these traits- traits they perceive define masculinity. Therefore, they are innately attracted to a leader who projects these traits.

    Examples of Trump’s alpha masculinity as perceived by Trump ditto-heads:

    • Trump uses a combination of a hair piece and he has had hair transplantation surgery (pubic hair was transplanted onto his scalp) because he’s too proud to admit he’s bald.
    • Trump’s bullying behavior is perceived by his supporters to be a manly man.
    • Frequent golfer.
    • He eats McDonalds almost every day.
    • He’s a billionaire with a hot wife who married him for his money.

  12. Here we go again on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 4:03 am 

    Boy, we have a lot of work to do…got the other half to take care of guys! Lots of oil, minerals, metals lumber to be taken to get us all RICH….that Rainforest is a free loader and not paying it’s way in the global economy.
    We’ll plant Palm and let cattle roam for cheap meats…..what’s the matter?

  13. Antius on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 4:39 am 

    The Truth Shall Set You Free, Why have you posted the same lame comment on several different threads? Were you afraid we might miss it?

  14. This is JuanP on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 5:00 am 

    This is JuanP on Thu, 6th Dec 2018 11:39 pm Free Speech Message Board, We don’t want you in my country anymore. Go back to wherever you came from, commie.
    boney joe on Thu, 6th Dec 2018 11:57 pm @ Free Speech Message Board That’s it in a nutshell.

  15. This is JuanP on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 5:08 am 

    The Truth Shall Set You Free on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 3:55 am Have you ever wondered what explains the cult like reverence of “Davy”, “Antius”, “Cloggie” and most members of the Republican party for Dear Leader Trump?

  16. Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 5:08 am 

    Truth made some very good points above, especially the bullying part. It makes us feel tough.

  17. Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 5:10 am 

    Shutup This is JuanP. Stupid dumbass.

  18. This is JuanP on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 5:12 am 

    Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 5:08 am Truth made some very good points above, especially the bullying part. It makes us feel tough. Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 5:10 am Shutup This is JuanP. Stupid dumbass.

  19. Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 5:26 am 

    Ignore him Anti-US. He’s just pissed cause we both want Trump to destroy the empire.

  20. The Truth Shall Set You Free on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 5:33 am 

    It’s reassuring to note anecdotal acceptance of the Fragile (Toxic) Masculinity Syndrome hypothesis by “Davy” and “Anti-US”.

    Thank you, gentlemen, for your feedback- most illustrative.

  21. This is JuanP on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 5:35 am 

    Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 5:26 am Ignore him Anti-US. He’s just pissed cause we both want Trump to destroy the empire. The Truth Shall Set You Free on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 5:33 am It’s reassuring to note anecdotal acceptance of the Fragile (Toxic) Masculinity Syndrome hypothesis by “Davy” and “Anti-US”. Thank you, gentlemen, for your feedback- most illustrative.

  22. Cloggie on Sat, 8th Dec 2018 7:40 am 

    New hydrogen-bromide flowbattery technology maturing in the Netherlands:

    http://www.wattisduurzaam.nl/9685/energie-opslaan/accus-batterijen/vers-lab-energieopslag-5-cent-per-kilowattuur/

    A typical unit can store 150-250 kWh and deliver 50 kW.

    Elestor thinks it can deliver storage capacity for 5 cent/kWh.

    Compare Tesla Powerwall: 40 cent now.

    The technology is a mixture of car batteries and fuel cell technology.

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