The Amazon has lost over 10 million football fields of forest in a decade

January 3, 2020 by  
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The Royal Statistical Society (RSS) recently published its International Statistic of the Decade, and the “winner” was the stark statistic that the Amazon lost 24,000 square miles of rainforest. That is a land size equivalent to 10.3 million American gridiron football fields or 8.4 million soccer fields. This sobering deforestation figure highlights the harsh landscape changes caused by intentional human encroachment for commercial development purposes, such as logging, mining and cattle ranching. “The statistic only gives a snapshot of the issue, but it really provides an insight into the dramatic change to the landscape that has occurred over the past decade,” Liberty Vittert, a Harvard University visiting scholar and a statistician on the RSS judging panel, said. Related: Amazon rainforest might reach irreversible tipping point as early as 2021 Deforestation matters. Why? For one, the Amazon rainforest is a biodiversity hotspot, home to thousands of plant and animal species at risk of endangerment and extinction . Secondly, the Amazon Basin supplies a considerable amount of water vapor to the atmosphere; its deforestation leads to drought and attendant wildfires, which further exacerbate the ecosystem equilibrium of the rainforest habitat. Also, the loss of trees and other vegetation causes soil erosion, which increases the risks for  flooding  and a host of other problems such as land loss for indigenous people and  habitat loss for endemic flora and fauna species. When species become endangered , the ecosystem and its biodiversity equilibrium are imbalanced, triggering chain reactions where one loss leads to another. We lose not only those plants and animals we know of, but even undiscovered ones with medicinal potential that could never be recovered. Hence, when ecosystems weaken, all species, even humans, are placed at risk.  The Amazon’s deforestation is considerable because it is the world’s largest rainforest , spanning nine South American countries and measuring about 25 times the size of the United Kingdom. Therefore, it plays a vital role in our planet’s climate regulation. The rainforest’s canopy, for example, regulates temperature, cooling the atmosphere. The canopy similarly controls atmospheric water levels, affecting the water cycle and stabilizing the rainfall of South America. Of utmost significance, too, is the Amazon’s role in carbon sequestration . After all, this rainforest absorbs and stores more than 180 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere. Without the Amazon as a carbon sink, the carbon is released back into the air, adding to greenhouse gases , which is ultimately bad news for Earth’s climate. Indeed, were it not for the Amazon rainforest helping to re-absorb the carbon from the carbon footprint generated by human consumption, land use and fossil fuel burning, climate change will not be buffered.  Professor Jennifer Rogers, chair of the judging panel and RSS vice-president for external affairs, explained further, “Irreplaceable rainforests, like the Amazon, are shrinking at an alarming rate, and this statistic gives a very powerful visual of a hugely important environmental issue. Much has been discussed regarding the environment in the last few years, and the judging panel felt this statistic was highly effective in capturing one of the decade’s worst examples of environmental degradation.” + Royal Statistical Society Via CNN Image via Free-Photos

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The Amazon has lost over 10 million football fields of forest in a decade

Top 10 transportation trends to watch for in 2020

December 17, 2019 by  
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City greenzones. Methane biodigesters. Connected schoolbuses. There’s a lot in store for the next year in mobility.

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Top 10 transportation trends to watch for in 2020

How employee activists inspired Amazon’s Climate Pledge

September 20, 2019 by  
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Both Amazon employees and outsiders say it’s a welcome signal, but plan to continue to push the company on its climate goals.

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How employee activists inspired Amazon’s Climate Pledge

How employee activists inspired Amazon’s Climate Pledge

September 20, 2019 by  
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Both Amazon employees and outsiders say it’s a welcome signal, but plan to continue to push the company on its climate goals.

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How employee activists inspired Amazon’s Climate Pledge

Why Amazon’s plan to buy 100,000 EVs is huge and hard

September 19, 2019 by  
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It’s a game changer, but it won’t be easy.

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Why Amazon’s plan to buy 100,000 EVs is huge and hard

Hey big tech, history is watching you

September 19, 2019 by  
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While Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and Google are progressive on some fronts, their overall corporate strategies to avert climate change have sketchy.

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Hey big tech, history is watching you

The planet is losing an area of forest cover the size of the UK each year

September 13, 2019 by  
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The rate of world deforestation continues to accelerate, despite governments’ promises to reverse it. Now, the world loses 64 million acres a year of forested land, which is equivalent to the size of the United Kingdom, according to a new study by Climate Focus . Thirty-seven governments as well as many multinational companies, NGOs and groups representing indigenous communities have signed the New York Declaration on Forests since it sprang from the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in 2014. This declaration pledged to cut the deforestation rate in half by 2020 and to end it by 2030. Unfortunately, this feel-good, non-legally binding declaration has been hugely unsuccessful. Since the declaration was penned, tree cover loss has skyrocketed by 43 percent, while tropical primary forests have been slashed. The world is now in worse shape than when the well-intended pledge was made. Some countries are making an effort. Indonesia slowed its rate of deforestation by a third between 2017 and 2018. Some countries, such as Ethiopia, Mexico and El Salvador, are determinedly planting trees. But these attempts are overshadowed by deforestation in much of Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa. Major forests in these regions saw marked decreases in tree cover between 2014 and 2018. Latin America lost the most forest by volume, but Africa experienced the greatest increase in the rate of deforestation. Of course, the recent Amazon wildfires are bringing deforestation to a whole new level. Climate scientists worry about feedback loops, where climate change makes trees drier, leading to increased flammability and more fires and carbon dioxide, which in turn makes things drier, hotter and even more flammable. “Deforestation, mostly for agriculture, contributes around a third of anthropogenic CO2 emissions,” Jo House, an environmental specialist at the University of Bristol, told The Guardian . “At the same time, forests naturally take up around a third of anthropogenic CO2 emissions. This natural sink provided by forests is at risk from the dual compounding threats of further deforestation and future climate change . The continued loss of primary forests at ever-increasing rates. despite their incalculable value and irreplaceability, is both shocking and tragic.” + Climate Focus Via The Guardian Image via Robert Jones

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The planet is losing an area of forest cover the size of the UK each year

The world is going sideways. What’s a sustainability professional to do?

August 27, 2019 by  
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The Amazon and the Arctic are burning, Greenland and Antarctica are melting, and longstanding concerns such as plastic waste, air pollution and water security that don’t seem to be getting better. How do you stay positive?

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The world is going sideways. What’s a sustainability professional to do?

Apparel industry fashions sustainability roles; insurers look to cut risk with new chiefs

August 27, 2019 by  
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From new ventures from sustainability stalwarts to tech executives in energy management, it’s an interesting time of the year for the sustainability field.

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Apparel industry fashions sustainability roles; insurers look to cut risk with new chiefs

What good are city clean-energy targets?

August 27, 2019 by  
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Cities from Atlanta to Los Angeles and beyond are seeing sweeping changes.

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What good are city clean-energy targets?

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