How might rain forest destruction affect our weather?
Most of the tropical rain forests straddle the equator. One-third of the world's total is in the Amazon basin of Brazil. Rain forests usually experience high humidity and daily rainfall. The vast areas of trees have been called the “lungs of the Earth.” The forests “breathe” by removing large amounts of carbon dioxide from the air and giving off oxygen.
It is feared that the loss of rain forests will increase CO2 levels in the atmosphere and result in global warming.
On a more local level, the clearing of rain forest land diminishes the amount of evaporation. As a result, the rainfall decreases and the ground dries out, reducing its ability to support vegetation.
Loss of rain forests also reduces the absorption of solar energy. Sunlight reflects off the barren ground instead of being absorbed by trees. This would tend to cause Earth cooling, an opposite result from the carbon dioxide increase. If the cooling effect dominates, rainfall and air circulation might decrease worldwide.
Rain forests covered about 30 percent of the Earth's land surface in 1950; the “greenbelt” is now at 7 percent and still declining.
The trees are being cleared for timber, underground minerals, and farms. In the process, the great diversity of plants and animals in the rain forests is destroyed. Many conservationists consider deforestation the planet's greatest environmental problem. Clearly, the ultimate results are uncertain at this time.
We are reminded that trees are created to be pleasant for sight, as well as for food (Genesis 2:9). They have a crucial place in this world.
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