Deforestation: A New Threat to Global Food Security

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BRASILIA, Brazil- Deforestation, the permanent destruction of forests in order to make land available for other uses, has increased in the Amazon by 28 percent this year, reports Huffington Post. For many years, forests have been cut down in order to provide farmers with arable land or to provide the timber industry with the supply needed to meet demands. But due to recent developments regarding the long-term environmental effects of deforestation, the world is beginning to pay more attention to deforestation and its devastating effects on humanity.

Recent studies have focused on the dramatic effects that deforestation can have on climate change and how, in turn, this can affect the world’s food supply. According to Nature World News, new climate simulation research by Princeton University indicates that rain and snowfall in the United States would be reduced significantly if the Amazon rainforest were completely deforested. The reduction in rainfall and snowfall would lead to water and food shortages, and a greater risk of forest fires.

The climate simulation research also suggests that if the Amazon were completely deforested, the Western region of the United States would experience drought, with 20 percent less rain for the coastal Northwest and a 50 percent reduction in the Sierra Nevada snowpack. David Medvigy, an assistant professor of geosciences at Princeton, stated that “[i]f you change the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, where most of the irrigation for California’s Central Valley comes from, then by this study deforestation of the Amazon could have serious consequences for the food supply of the United States.”

While the United States may be able to find ways to feed its population in such a scenario, the world’s poorer regions might not fare as well under similar circumstances. By all accounts, it appears as if the rest of the world may face those similar circumstances fairly soon.

A new interactive map created by the University of Maryland shows that the world has lost approximately 888,000 square miles of forest between 2000 and 2012, a loss totaling the size of Alaska. Additional studies estimate the loss is even greater, indicating that the Earth has lost approximately 1.5 million square miles of forests since 2000. This data indicates deforestation is occurring all over the world, thereby increasing the likelihood that climate change will affect the food supply in other regions, the same way it is projected to affect weather patterns and food production in the United States.

To add to the problem, a new report by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicates global food production is expected to decrease two percent every decade as a result of drought and other climate related impacts. This information should cause great concern to supporters of global poverty reduction, especially considering that the world’s poor are disproportionately affected by such changes. Deforestation, if not curbed substantially, threatens to significantly reduce the world’s food supply in the coming years.

Cavarrio Carter

Sources: Our Green Planet, Nature World News, The Weather Channel, Live Science, The Guardian, The New York Times
Photo: Persuasion and Influence

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