This page has been archived and is no longer updated

May 19, 2012 | By:  Samantha Jakuboski
Aa Aa Aa

Deforestation and Global Warming

Due to a cut in permanent park rangers in British Columbia, Canada, the surveillance of provincial parks has been low, and poachers have used this as an opportunity to steal cedar from a protected, eight hundred year old red cedar tree in Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park, Vancouver. By the time the park rangers realized what was happening, it was already too late. Eighty percent of the giant-cedar's base was already cut, so the rangers had no choice but to take the tree down and let it decompose back into the ground. But, the selfish, fearless poachers came back, cut up the trunk, loaded their trucks up with the wood, and escaped with thousands of dollars worth in cedar. Talk about nerve.

After reading about this, I was so upset. I can't understand how people could be so devious and greedy to cut down an eight hundred year old tree for money! Don't people have a conscience! Don't people have morals!

This leads me to one of the major problems that the world faces today. Deforestation. Look around. It is amazing how many tree-based products we depend on. From books, to wooden floors, to furniture, we are surrounded by them, and without these, personally, my house would look a whole lot different.

When we add these demands for tree-based products with the demands for agriculture, fuel, and land, the problem of deforestation grows each day. And as shocking as this may seem, deforestation has a huge effect on global warming.

The Greenhouse Effect

In order to understand how trees relate to global warming, you first have to understand what the greenhouse effect is.

Just like a greenhouse traps heat inside, Earth has a "natural greenhouse effect" in which some of the sun's infrared radiation is trapped to warm the planet. In the atmosphere, there are certain gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxides, ozone, and water vapor, which aid in this process by reflecting the heat back to earth. This process allows Earth to maintain a comfortable temperature. (An average of around 57 degrees Fahrenheit) If this radiation is not trapped, the average temperature on earth would drop to zero degrees Fahrenheit, (-18 degrees Celsius), and life would not be as we know it today.

In this way, these greenhouse gases are very important and central to the survival of the living organisms on Earth. The greenhouse effect is what makes Earth so unique from the other planets; we have just the right amount of greenhouse gases to make for a suitable temperature.

Yet, too much of something is not a good thing, and in this case, the excess of these greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, in our atmosphere is detrimental to life and the environment. With a plethora of these gases being released into the atmosphere by human innovations, the greenhouse effect is enhancing and this is causing the rise in temperature that we have been experiencing in the last two centuries. Since 1750, (the beginning of the Industrial Revolution), the output of carbon dioxide alone has risen about 36%, and since 1880, which marks the end of the Industrial Revolution, Earth’s temperature has risen 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Although this may not seem like an enormous increase, the effects it leaves on the environment and the organisms that live in it are damaging and deadly. Many plants and animals cannot adapt to temperature changes in their environment quickly, and this is causing many to become endangered, and for some extinct.

So how do trees and deforestation relate to global warming?

Trees play a huge role in the carbon cycle. They convert the CO2 in the air to oxygen, through the process of photosynthesis, and in this way, they can be looked at as a natural regulator of the carbon dioxide. The more trees, the less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the more oxygen.

Since we live in an age where carbon dioxide is very abundant in the atmosphere, released through man-made inventions, such as cars, factories, and power plants, it is vital, more than ever, that trees fulfill their part in the environment and take some of the excess carbon dioxide out of the air. Unfortunately, deforestation is preventing this job to be fully accomplished, and with half of all the Earth's forests gone, and four million trees cut down each year just for paper use, the amount of carbon dioxide is rising. With more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, more of the sun's radiation is being reflected back to earth, instead of space, and this is causing our average temperature to rise. In this way, deforestation is a major issue when it comes to global warming.

But, as I always say, "There is still time for change!" If we conserve our supply of trees and make recycling a higher priority, then we can reduce the number of trees that are cut down. Please do your part and recycle.

What do you have to say about the poachers in Canada who cut down that eight hundred year old tree? What are your thoughts about deforestation? What other ways can we conserve our trees?

For more reading about deforestation and its effects, visit Naseem's blog.

Picture Credit: Evan Leeson (via Flickr)


EmissionsUnited States Environmental protection Agency April 14, 2011

"Poachers Take Ancient Red Cedar From Carmanah-Walbran Provincial Park" Wildness Committee May 17, 2012

1 Comment
May 20, 2012 | 11:30 PM
Posted By:  Samantha Jakuboski
To add to my post, deforestation also causes global warming because since trees are comprised of 50% carbon, when they are burned to clear the land, the stored carbon gets released back into the air. Once again, the more carbon in the atmosphere, the more heat is reflected back to earth, and the higher the average temperature on Earth.

Blogger Profiles
Recent Posts

« Prev Next »

Connect Send a message

Scitable by Nature Education Nature Education Home Learn More About Faculty Page Students Page Feedback