Amazon Rainforest Now Emits More CO2 Than It Absorbs For First Time Fires are intentionally set in the Amazon to clear land for beef production - Media Credit: Adobe. Do not use without permission.

Amazon Rainforest Now Emits More CO2 Than It Absorbs For First Time

Animal agriculture has been linked to the worsening state of the Amazon rainforest


2 Minutes Read

For the first time, the world’s largest rainforest is worsening the climate crisis, a new study has found. The Amazon rainforest’s ability to absorb emissions once slowed down climate change, but it now expels a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

Many of the emissions are caused by fires intentionally set to clear land for beef and soy production. A lot of the soy produced is fed back into the meat industry. In fact, according to WWF, nearly 80 percent of the world’s soybean crop is fed to livestock.

Rising temperatures and droughts are also contributing to increased emissions.

‘Accelerating climate change’

Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research led the study, which spanned over a nine-year period. Researchers launched around 600 flights over four main sites in the Brazilian Amazon. This allowed them to record carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide levels up to 4,500 meters above the forest.

They discovered that while the rainforest soaks up 0.5 billion tonnes of CO2 annually, it emits 1.5 billion. The remaining 1 billion tonnes left in the atmosphere is equal to the annual emissions of Japan – the fifth-largest polluter in the world.

Luciana Gatti, who led the research, said to The Guardian: “The first very bad news is that forest burning produces around three times more CO2 than the forest absorbs.

“The second bad news is that the places where deforestation is 30 percent or more show carbon emissions 10 times higher than where deforestation is lower than 20 percent.”

She added: “Imagine if we could prohibit fires in the Amazon – it could be a carbon sink. But we are doing the opposite – we are accelerating climate change.”

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The Author

Jemima Webber

Jemima is the Head of Editorial of Plant Based News. Aside from writing about climate and animal rights issues, she studies psychology in Newcastle, Australia (where she was born).

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1 year ago

I did a presentation in 1997 for an economics class about the destruction of the Amazon forest caused by the cheap burger companies (McDonalds, Wendys, Burger King, etc.) who paid farmers for their cheap cattle meat – the farmers had to slash and burn their way thru the forest every year because the soil was so poor it wouldn’t produce enough grass for the cattle more than one season. It was called The Hamburger Connection and the point of my presentation was the fact that the loss of the Amazon forest was never calculated into the GNP – it was ‘free.’ So, here we are 24 years later and this is news? I found all my support research in BOOKS found in a LIBRARY – and this is news??? Shame on you – you’re obviously part of the problem.

Darrell Sawczuk
Darrell Sawczuk
1 year ago
Reply to  PithyKat

Thank you for your comment.

Sounds like you were educating people about this a while ago! Scientists have been warning of this for many years.

Nabi Rasch
Nabi Rasch
1 year ago

As a PR specialist who worked in a governmental environment agency for several years I perceived vast mistakes in how scientists presented their concerns to the public. ‘Global warming’, for example, though catchy, was, in my opinion a misstep. We needed something more subtle.

Nabi Rasch
Nabi Rasch
1 year ago

Unfortunately, on a large scale or small scale, very few organizations are doing anything right. In many circumstances in recycling, for just one example, we’re only getting back to where we were 30 years ago. Personally, I don’t think anybody really cares much about future generations. It’s just talk. Malthus was correct extrapolating his clear conclusion.

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