We have already reported on tipping points and their properties in a previous blog post. What they are and what significance they already have for our environment. Since we would like to report in more detail about tipping points, we are dedicating a separate series to this topic – “Tipping Points in Detail”. In the first blog post of the 3-part series, we would like to bring you a little closer to the topic of the Amazon Rainforest. In the second part, we will talk about ocean currents and their importance for the animal and plant world and the effects on us humans. In the third and last part of our series, we will highlight the ice melt at the polar ice caps and some local glaciers.
The Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest is not called “the green lung of our earth” without reason. It is not only unimaginably large and home to countless species of animals and plants but also plays a crucial role in our climate. It extends over nine South American countries with an area of around 6.7 million square meters and is thus larger than the entire land area of Europe. Due to its incredible size and diversity, the Amazon rainforest is also one of the largest CO2 reservoirs in the world. Millions of tons of CO2 are stored in its soil and the plants.
But this vast ecosystem is threatened by us humans. Every day, hour after hour, areas the size of several soccer fields are deforested. These are often replaced by plantations where fodder for breeding animals or food is grown in monoculture. Often this deforestation is done by slash and burn. Already during this deforestation process, a large part of the stored CO2 is released back into the atmosphere. The cleared forest areas can also no longer store CO2. The monocultures planted in place of the rainforest have only a fraction of the CO2 absorption capacity as the rainforest itself.
Where are we today? We will soon reach a point where this ecosystem can no longer regenerate entirely on its own: the tipping point.
If the rainforest shrinks at an unabated rate in the coming years, this tipping point will be passed with far-reaching consequences for the global climate. There will be insufficient O2 production and CO2 storage, but there will also be a rapid decline in biodiversity, essential for an intact ecosystem. Furthermore, floods will occur due to the substantial increase in desertification. The cycle between rain, evaporation, forest and animals will be interrupted.