By Avery Wickersham
Trees have provided comfort for animals and humans alike for millennia. On a hot day, the leafy foliage of an oak tree yield the necessary shade. Important foods grow on long, spindly branches, encouraging hungry mouths to reach for its produce. Without trees, everyday life would change drastically, leaving animal and human life alike scrambling for air as time ran out. Deforestation threatens forests globally, from removal of trees in the Amazon Rainforest to wildfires that have swept over countless continents, depleting the forest populations on a substantial level. What happens if our forests are decimated entirely?
The Short Answer
global death. This includes animals, other flora, and, of course, humans. Remove one natural resource, and the others will follow in a worldwide domino crash. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is a sappy, borderline dystopian book and movie about a community coming together to bring back the trees. The message is beautiful, and is absolutely necessary in the real world in order to continue living on the planet we all call “home.” Trees serve multiple purposes, not only purifying the air and water, but also providing jobs. According to the World Wildlife Fund, 13.2 million people have jobs in the forest sector globally, while another 41 million people have jobs related to the forest sector (Deforestation and Forest Degradation). While not all citizens of the United States believe that climate change is as terrifying and rampant as it is, it would seem to reason that a loss of jobs on such a seismic scale would result in global economic tragedy that would affect everyone living on Earth.
Forests cover 31 percent of the globe, definitely a slim ratio to the bountiful oceans that engulf about 75 percent of the Earth. While each of those forests is important, tropical rainforests, like the mystical Amazon, are incredibly important; not just because of the fairytale-like stories about that particular jungle. It’s especially worrying when tropical rainforests are destroyed or replaced. These rainforests hold most of the world’s biodiversity in flora and fauna (WWF CITATION). The beautiful, rare pink dolphins, the terrifying piranhas, and all of the other species are in danger of being lost forever if the rate of deforestation continues.
Another inadvertent, but important, risk to the forests are wildfires—natural or not. Some wildfires are inevitable and due to uncontrollable factors, such as lightning strikes. However, the Earth is caught in a vicious cycle. Without the usual amount of trees, the air and water are not getting purified like they usually do. As a result, the carbon dioxide levels are causing a rise in ocean levels. According to DW, warmer oceans help cause fires to start (DW CITATION). In early 2020, a large fraction of Australia was burning because of the dry climate, but also potentially because of the rise in ocean temperature. Because oceans already outweigh land in surface area, it poses an imminent threat. Read About Greenland Sharks
As a native of Colorado, forests hold a special place in my heart. It’s a place that rejuvenates my soul and provides comfort, recreation, and shelter to so many. In the summer of 2020, Colorado had multiple fires that broke state records. It was an event that broke my heart, and without the forests, none of us will survive. There are ways to help stop the effects of deforestation, but only if people understand the consequences and do everything in their power to keep from adding to the destruction.
“Deforestation and Forest Degradation.” WWF World Wildlife Fund, www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation
“Wildfires: Climate Change and Deforestation Increase the Global Risk | DW | 08.01.2020.” Google, Google, www.google.com/amp/s/amp.dw.com/en/wildfires-climate-change-and-deforestation-increase-the-global-risk/a-51928388.