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Panama’s [Darien] Deforestation, and The Clearing and Burning of the Amazon Rainforest


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ENVIRONMENT: The deforestation dilemma

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Panama has its own deforestation issues largely driven by commercial interests

Despite advanced monitoring systems and global initiatives and policies aimed at preserving the world’s rainforests, controversy remains over whether deforestation rates are, in fact, declining.

By Navin Ramankutty

AN ARTICLE in the New York Times last week reported an uptick in Brazilian deforestation since 2015, following a decade of decreasing rates of forest loss.

For 10 years now, scientists, activists, and policymakers celebrated the decline in Brazilian deforestation rates and the successful policies that had slowed it down.

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By Navin Ramankutty

The New York Times report suggests that we may have celebrated too early though.
Humans have cleared forests since time immemorial, for cultivating crops, grazing animals or building settlements. Since the beginning of human civilization, we have lost nearly half our trees. While much of the deforestation occurred in the world’s temperate regions in earlier centuries, over the last few decades, deforestation has been concentrated in the tropics, particularly in the rainforests of the Amazon, the Congo and Southeast Asia.

A larger portion of deforestation today is for the production of commodity crops such as soy and oil palm.


So how do we know how much forest is being lost?

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations conducts surveys every five to ten years to gauge forest loss – and gain.

Over the last decade, we have also seen remarkable progress in the use of satellite imagery to estimate forest loss. Through these mixed techniques, estimates suggest that our planet has lost roughly three percent of its forests between 1990 and 2015.

The loss of tropical rainforests is concerning because rainforests are home to countless species and store vast amounts of carbon that will accelerate climate change if burnt and released into the atmosphere.

Tropical deforestation can also alter climate patterns both locally and in distant places. Rainforests are often referred to as the “lungs” of our planet, and for good reason; they play a critical role in regulating global carbon dioxide levels and limiting climate change.

At the source, forests are cleared by ranchers, farmers, or timber companies whose jobs are made easy with  the construction of roads and other infrastructure that provide access to forests and eases shipment of product to market.

Ultimately, the loss of forests is being driven by the insatiable demand for food and lumber, both in places close to the source of deforestation and by distant urban consumers.

Accordingly, policies aimed at slowing deforestation focus on different parts of the supply chain. For example, REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), a major global initiative, focusses on rewarding nations financially for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation, or for absorbing carbon through forest management. REDD does not mandate specific strategies, but rather allows nations to formulate their own management plans, encouraging local, practical and community-focused solutions to deforestation.

The Brazilian Soy Moratorium is a voluntary agreement crafted by a coalition of civil society and business leaders with the Brazilian government to ensure that traders will not purchase soy that has been grown on land deforested in the Brazilian Amazon after 2006.

A paper published in Science Magazine in 2015, reported that the Soy Moratorium had worked to slow down Brazilian deforestation, using a mix of empirical data and on-the-ground interviews with farmers.

But more research is needed to fully show just how effective these agreements are.

Other initiatives, like The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, work to develop credible global standards for ensuring sustainability along the entire supply chain – not just at the source of deforestation. As an increasing number of companies commit to reducing deforestation, certification schemes seem to be the predominant tool of choice and may offer a promising future for our forests.

Such initiatives are all well and good but how do we know if these policies actually work? The short answer is: it varies.

While some countries like Brazil have  leading forest monitoring systems, controversy remains over whether tropical deforestation rates are going up or going down. The problem of “leakage” – whereby deforestation slows down in one location but rises in another nearby location, is an issue which further clouds our efforts.

The reality is that while our intentions to reduce deforestation have increased, our appetite for commodity crops such as soy and palm oil have probably increased even faster.

The New York Times article points to the increasing reach of global agribusinesses into even more remote areas to source raw materials. Until we can reduce our demand for more, more, more, efforts to cut down on deforestation are likely to remain only marginally effective.

Navin Ramankutty is Professor and Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Change and Food Security at the Liu Institute for Global Issues and the Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia.

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/environment-deforestation-dilemma

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Amazon burns, Panama improvises

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Posted 25/08/2019

The fire that occurs in the Amazon, lung of our planet - generates 20% of the earth's oxygen - is of apocalyptic proportions. This, in a world so polluted and environmentally fragile, is almost equivalent to cutting the fourth leg of a table. The tragedy is colossal from any angle that is seen. The emissions contributed by the massive combustion of organic material will make a long-term deposit in the global warming account. The president of Brazil, without providing a single test, blames NGOs for deliberately causing the fires, in revenge for the cut of funds decreed by his government. Bolsonaro's environmental policy has already caused several European countries to suspend cooperation to the Amazon Fund, and the president of France accuses his peer of lying about his environmental commitments. Maybe we should ask ourselves now, are we Panamanians learning something from all this? Our jungle of Darién, increasingly intervened, is not exempt from suffering damages of similar proportions. The way the crisis is managed in Brazil and the response of the international community must matter to us. If we are not prepared to face something like this, it is useful to know at least what it takes to do it. We must break the vicious circle of improvisation. - LA PRENSA, August 25

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/amazon-burns-panama-improvises

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Climate Change has been a principal agenda item for world leaders at the G7 Conference in France this weekend and was the subject of a major bilateral meeting this morning. It was voted to send $20 million to the Amazon basin nations to assist in fire fighting there. 

Canada’s Prime Minister offered to send $15 million in aid and water bombers to the region.

Most notably, the President of the U.S.A. did not attend nor did he participate in any discussions on the subject. Instead he chose to speak about increased U.S. production of fossil fuel in the form of LNG gas. He also criticized alternative energy wind farms.

This is discouraging for the rest of the hemisphere, including us here in Panama.

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Edited by Keith Woolford
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14 hours ago, Keith Woolford said:

Climate Change has been a principal agenda item for world leaders at the G7 Conference in France this weekend and was the subject of a major bilateral meeting this morning. It was voted to send $20 million to the Amazon basin nations to assist in fire fighting there. 

Canada’s Prime Minister offered to send $15 million in aid and water bombers to the region.

Most notably, the President of the U.S.A. did not attend nor did he participate in any discussions on the subject. Instead he chose to speak about increased U.S. production of fossil fuel in the form of LNG gas. He also criticized alternative energy wind farms.

This is discouraging for the rest of the hemisphere, including us here in Panama.

image.png.6c1dcfd373c960f9d5faad2ecad3f02a.png

 

 

Mr. Woolford,

 

You wrote:

 

"Most notably, the President of the U.S.A. did not attend nor did he participate in any discussions on the subject."

 

The fact is the United States chose to not participate in the Paris Accord climate change initiative hence the reason that President Trump did not attend this segment of the G7 conference.   President Trump had good reason for not participating in the Paris Accord, the United States would've faced more than a decade of substantial fines, enormous increases in energy costs, as well as providing billions of dollars annually to developing nations.  Many countries including China and India were immune from fines as well as not having to provide billions of dollars annually to developing nations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brazil Says It Will Reject $22 Million in Amazon Aid Pledged at G7

Manuela Andreoni

RIO DE JANEIRO — Hours after leaders of some of the world’s wealthiest countries pledged more than $22 million to help combat fires in the Amazon rainforest, Brazil’s government angrily rejected the offer, in effect telling the other nations to mind their own business — only to later lay out potential terms for the aid’s acceptance.

President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil expressed his ire in a series of Twitter posts on Monday, and specifically criticized and taunted President Emmanuel Macron of France, who had announced the aid package at the Group of 7 summit meeting. Their comments extended a verbal feud between the two leaders.

But early the next day, Mr. Bolsonaro offered possible terms for the acceptance of the aid package when he spoke to reporters in the capital, Brasília.

He said that if Mr. Macron withdrew “insults made to my person,” and what Mr. Bolsonaro interpreted as insinuations that Brazil does not have sovereignty over the Amazon, he would reconsider.

“To talk or accept anything from France, even with their very best intentions, he will have to withdraw his words, and then we can talk,” Mr. Bolsonaro said. “First he withdraws them, then he makes the offer, and then I’ll answer.”

Mr. Bolsonaro, who has suggested earlier that Mr. Macon’s real motive is to shield France’s agriculture from Brazilian competition, had tweeted on Monday that the president “disguises his intentions behind the idea of an ‘alliance’ of the G7 countries to ‘save’ the Amazon, as if we were a colony or a no-man’s land.”

His chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, told the Globo broadcast network that the administration would be turning down the offer, and insulted Mr. Macron with a reference to the fire that gutted the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris in April. The Brazilian government later confirmed his comments, Globo reported.

“Thanks, but perhaps these resources are more relevant to reforesting Europe,” Mr. Lorenzoni told the news organization. “Can Macron not even prevent a predictable fire in a church that is a World Heritage Site and wants to teach what for our country? He has a lot to look after at home and in the French colonies.”

More than 26,000 forest fires have been recorded in the Amazon rainforest this month, the highest number in a decade, setting off international outrage and calls for greater protections.

The forests absorb a significant share of the planet’s climate-warming carbon dioxide, are home to Indigenous peoples, and are a vital habitat for endangered species.

In an interview with the Brazilian television program “Roda Vida,” the country’s environment minister, Ricardo Salles, seemed to contradict Mr. Lorenzoni’s view.

He said he thought “it is important to accept the help that was offered,” because it would provide equipment to help combat the fires.

Mr. Bolsonaro has been widely criticized by environmentalists for calls to open up protected parts of the Amazon rainforest for logging, farming, mining and other development, which many say has caused further exploitation of the region. The illegally set fires and resulting deforestation, critics say, are being driven by his policies.

Mr. Bolsonaro has flung criticism at Mr. Macron since last week, when the French leader put the Amazon fires on the Group of 7 agenda and called the situation a global crisis. Mr. Bolsonaro said Mr. Macron had a “colonialist mind-set,” while Mr. Macron accused the Brazilian leader of lying about his commitment to fighting climate change.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/27/world/americas/brazil-amazon-aid.html

 

 

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ENVIRONMENT: Panama's lungs moving to pasture

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8.1 hectares of Darien jungle disappear every day.

Posted 26/08/2019

As Amazon forests burn or are taken over by mining corporations and farming interests the Darien jungle Panama’s own lung for world is also disappearing with 1,800 hectares of valuable forests already gone and the devastation continuing at a rate of 8.1 hectares per day.

The bad news is reported in the latest 2019 studies prepared by the new Department of Tele Detection created by the  Ministry of Environment (Miambiente) to calculate the rate of deforestation nationwide.

The department is responsible for permanently monitoring the country's forest cover through high-resolution satellite geo technology. According to the Minister of Environment, Milciades Concepción , these are “preliminary figures” of a study that is being developed by a specialized team.

Since taking possession on July 1, Concepción suspended for 100 timber extraction permits while an “audit” is carried out to know the impact of the logging activity and the guarantees that were given for logging during the last administration, not only in Darien, but also in East Panama.

Despite this measure, those involved in the logging activity seek different mechanisms to continue illegally harvesting wood from the region.

On August 11 authorities of MiAmbiente made a tour of the checkpoints in Jenené, in the Cañita sector; and Tortí, between Darién and eastern Panama. During the inspection, it was verified that three containers and two .trucks did not have the current transport guides; Administrative sanctions were applied. The guides are the document that indicates that the cutting is authorized by Miambiente 

. At that time, Víctor Cadavid, national director of Forestry of the entity, stressed that the operations will continue on a regular basis throughout the country, with the support of the members of the Ecological Police, particularly in the Darien and East Panama.

In the last five years 52  fines and forest sanctions processes have been applied for offenses from illegal logging to burning.

Stanley Heckadon , a scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, between 1970 and 1980 was part of the group of experts who measured or established the limits of several ecological reserves in Darien like the Filo del Tallo Hydrological Reserve, in which about 17 rivers and streams are born.

However, according to Heckadon, loggers, land speculators and the advance of the agricultural frontier without any planning are damaging the areas biodiversity and heading for a timrreports La Prensa

“At that rate indicated by the figures of the Ministry of Environment, Darien will be a great pasture in the future. There will be nothing left, ”he said.

Another of the problems that concerns the scientist are the large forest fires caused by farmers and ranchers in the area and that many extend to the more than five protected areas that were established in Darien.

Between March and April this year several fires devastated about 1000 hectares of the Punta Patiño ecological reserve.

 Three years ago, Matusagaratí wildlife refuge wetlands lost 2,000 hectares of primary forest through arson.

Hermel López, of the Association of Professionals of Darién for Integral and Sustainable Development, indicated that it is "regrettable" what is happening in that province. “The impact is irreversible and rivers like the Chucunaque are decreasing their flow. Many are no longer navigable, have a lot of sediment and affect water intakes for the population's consumption, ”he said.

For López, after the Amazon in Brazil, and the Petén jungle in Guatemala, Darién has the most valuable forests in Latin America. "Without a doubt, Darien is our Amazon,"

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/environment/environment-panamaampamp039s-lungs-moving-to-pasture-1

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Panama’s  uncontrolled logging mafia

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Posted 26/08/2019

What is happening in Darien is unsustainable. The indiscriminate felling and without real controls by the authorities will begin to collect their accounts in a shorter term than we imagine, having devastating effects not only for the biodiversity of that region, but for the whole country. It seems that the economic interests of those employers of the timber and agricultural industry - who see the green forests of this province as the ideal place to knead their fortune - have found a protective shield in the governments of the day and in the political class. The use of technology to exert better control over logging in Darien is a good start to stop this kind of mafia who seems little to care that the Ministry of Environment itself has ordered the suspension of extraction permits. The truth is that, if you do nothing, Our Darien stopper, as has begun to happen to the Amazon, will lose its biodiversity and with it the natural resources found in it. Neither climate change nor its effects are a conspiracy theory. They are as real as drylands due to lack of water, already extinct species and the millions of human beings who starve in the world.- LA PRENSA, Aug 26.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/panamas-uncontrolled-logging-mafia

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There are alternative views and clarifying data concerning these fires and related matters discussed here. Forbes is known as a business and finance news organ, and not a political rag. If anything it would be center right.

See https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2019/08/26/why-everything-they-say-about-the-amazon-including-that-its-the-lungs-of-the-world-is-wrong/#713d27145bde

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Moritorium on Darien logging permits

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Posted 03/09/2019

Environment Minister, Milciades Concepcion  has declared a one year moratorium, on logging  permits in Darien where  8.1 hectares  of valuable forest are lost every day, and a National Assembly committee installed to monitor the devastation.  

The committee is chaired by  independent deputy, Edison Broce, who said that there has always been talk of Darien but a team has never been created to assess the reality related to logging.

“We cut down our most valuable forests without mercy. Since 2012 we have logged, in Darién, the equivalent of 20,000  football fields  in this province and if we do not something, the damage will be irreversible, ”Broce argued.

In addition, the deputy said that there will be consultations, citations to officials and visits to Darien, in order to gather all possible information related to the issue and prepare a report to be submitted in a month.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/environment/moritorium-on-darien-logging-permits

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: Amazon burns, Panama improvises

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Posted 25/08/2019

The fire that occurs in the Amazon, lung of our planet - generates 20% of the earth's oxygen - is of apocalyptic proportions. This, in a world so polluted and environmentally fragile, is almost equivalent to cutting the fourth leg of a table. The tragedy is colossal from any angle that is seen. The emissions contributed by the massive combustion of organic material will make a long-term deposit in the global warming account. The president of Brazil, without providing a single test, blames NGOs for deliberately causing the fires, in revenge for the cut of funds decreed by his government. Bolsonaro's environmental policy has already caused several European countries to suspend cooperation to the Amazon Fund, and the president of France accuses his peer of lying about his environmental commitments. Maybe we should ask ourselves now, are we Panamanians learning something from all this? Our jungle of Darién, increasingly intervened, is not exempt from suffering damages of similar proportions. The way the crisis is managed in Brazil and the response of the international community must matter to us. If we are not prepared to face something like this, it is useful to know at least what it takes to do it. We must break the vicious circle of improvisation. - LA PRENSA, August 25

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/amazon-burns-panama-improvises

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11 football fields of Darien rainforest destroyed daily

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Illegal logging probe underway

Posted 20/09/2019

The deforestation of the Darien jungle is accelerating with some eight hectares a day equivalent to more than eleven football fields disappearing in recent years,  said Minister of Environment, Miliciades Concepción during his appearance before the National Assembly on Wednesday, September 19.

 The crisis that threatens the rainforest has seen 21,784 hectares destroyed between 2012 and 2018 he told the Legislative Commission investigating illegal logging in the eastern province.

The Ministry declared on September 6 a moratorium that suspends all permits and concessions within the natural forests of the country, based on technical studies that evidence the significant reduction of forested areas, mainly Darién, Panama East and Bocas del Toro.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/environment/11-football-fields-of-darien-rainforest-destroyed-daily

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Corruption Liquidating Panama’s Forest Assets

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Deforestation in Darien

Posted 27/09/2019

The National Land Administration Authority (Anati) suspended the processing of 200 applications for property titles in Darien. The reason is the proliferation of these procedures in protected areas, which causes deforestation and other social and environmental problems. For example, Anati discovered that 201 property titles had already been registered in the wildlife area of the Matusaragati lagoon, although the Political Constitution forbids it. It is fair to suspect that what happened in Darien could be repeated in other protected areas of the country.

Each title of this nature implies corruption on the part of a long chain of officials, who usually protected by political sponsors, proceed to liquidate the assets of the country. Anati, the Administrative Unit of Reverted Assets of the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Environment must jealously protect the last forests that we have left for Panamanians.

State lands are not currency, but a reserve for the future. This land negotiation is cancer that threatens the health of the soil and the environment in Panama. - LA PRENSA, Sep. 27

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/corruption-liquidating-panamas-forest-assets

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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Panama’s Darien Deforestation and Amazon Burns
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“Collusion” implied in deforestation

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Posted 01/02/2021

The Public Ministry is conducting an investigation into the illegal logging of 127 hectares of  forest in the   protected areas of Darien.

Raisa Banfield, architect and environmentalist, believes that this practice could be the “collusion” of local and national authorities.

In her opinion, it is impossible for these events to go unnoticed given the significant presence of the security forces in Darién. She  pointed out that the worst poverty in Darién is the devastation of its natural wealth, given the indifference and little action of many.

 “Although sustainable forest harvesting is a valid alternative, I consider that its application in Darién has been the front for the unjustified and devastating logging that is behind it. she said.

According to the Center for Environmental Incidence (CIAM), which took data from Global Forest Watch as a reference, the country lost between 2000 and 2017 about 352,000 hectares of forests, due to activities such as agriculture, logging or construction. In that period, therovince of Darién had a forest loss of 93,500 hectares.

Condemnation

Environmentalist  Alida Spadafora said that an investigation is required that yields concrete data for there to be an exemplary conviction. "A prevention campaign is important, but even more so is the condemnation." He explained that in Darien every year there is indiscriminate deforestation, which may well bring a business behind it, so it is necessary to condemn the felling of forests.

“Everyone knows that deforesting is a crime, that you have to take care of the forests, but despite this, illegal logging continues. That is why  conviction is necessary ”, he assured.

Deputy Edison Broce, a member of the National Assembly's Environment and Development Commission, indicated that as long as there is little institutional presence in the area, lack of resources and neglect of the Darien province, it will be difficult to stop deforestation.

Like Spadafora, he believes that exemplary penalties for offenders could help discourage the commission of these crimes.

The MP reported that, after an environmental investigation in the area, it was verified that it is a natural forest where national monument trees, such as Almendro and Nazareno, with ages between 200 and 500 years, have been affeced; likewise, birds such as orioles, red and yellow macaws, primates and other varieties of flora and fauna in danger of extinction.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/environment/collusion-implied-in-deforestation

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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Panama’s [Darien] Deforestation, and The Amazon Burns
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ENVIRONMENT: Amazon Rainforest  Becoming CO2 Emitter

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Posted 18/07/2021

Much of the Amazon rainforest has become a CO2 emitter primarily due to forest clearing through burning, rather than its traditional role as a carbon dioxide scavenger, exacerbating climate change.

Based on hundreds of air samples collected at different heights over the past decade, a study published by the journal Nature this week claims that the southeastern part of the Amazon has gone from being a capture 'well' to a source of CO2 emission, one of the main responsible for global warming. During the last half-century, plants and soils have absorbed more than 25% of CO2 emissions, while these emissions have increased by up to 50%.

The Amazon - which is home to half of the tropical forests and stores 450 billion tons of CO2 in its trees and soils - has become a source of emissions.

"Both deforestation and forest degradation reduce the Amazon's ability to act as a carbon sequestration well," the authors noted.

Since 1970, the region's tropical forests have been reduced by 17%, mainly to support pasture for cattle ranching.

Forests are generally cut down with fire, which releases large amounts of CO2 and reduces the number of trees available to absorb it.

Climate change itself is also a key factor. Dry season temperatures have risen by nearly three degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, triple the global average throughout the year.

The combination of all of them "calls into question the ability of tropical forests to absorb large volumes of CO2," says Scott Denning , from the University of Colorado (USA), in an article also published by Nature.

To study this problem, the Brazilian research team collected 600 samples of CO2 and carbon monoxide, between 2010 and 2018, at altitudes of up to 4.5 km. According to their findings, the northwestern part of the Amazon is in equilibrium, and the east, especially in the dry season, becomes an emitting source.

Another recent study, using another methodology, concluded that the Amazon emitted between 2010 and 2019 almost 20% more CO2.

With the melting of the polar ice caps, the melting of the permafrost (permanently frozen soil layer) and the deterioration of the Amazon rainforest is one of the key “tipping points” that could lead to irreparable change in the climate system.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/environment/environment-amazon-rainforest-becoming-co2-emitter

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