Amazon Deforestation Rate Hits 3 Football Fields Per Minute

July 28, 2019 at 5:20 pm

Deforestation rate nearly doubles under Brazil’s new President Bolsonaro. Scientists warn we are reaching the tipping point from which the rainforest might not recover.

Earlier this month we reported that deforestation in Brazil was up 88% under the country’s new president Jair Bolsonaro, who boasted during his campaign that he would open large swaths of the Amazon for agriculture and mining.

Brazil’s National Institute of Space Research has now published the official numbers for June, revealing an all-time high deforestation rate of 3 football fields (or 4 acres) per minute.

The rapid deforestation is “pushing the world’s biggest rainforest closer to a tipping point beyond which it cannot recover,” The Guardian reports.

When large enough areas of rainforest are clear-cut the eco-system could degrade into savannah as it loses the ability to make their own rainfall from from plants giving off water vapor, evaporating and falling back down from the top of the tree canopy, researchers say.

“There are a number of tipping points which are not far away,” Philip Fearnside, a professor at Brazil’s National Institute of Amazonian Research, told The Guardian. “We can’t see exactly where they are, but we know they are very close. It means we have to do things right away.”

“A transition on that scale could have significant implications for global warming since the rainforest absorbs vast amounts of atmospheric carbon,” Ecowatch notes.