Biofuel plantations replacing Tropical Rain Forests
Image by Byflickr
Did you know that because of tropical deforestation, it is estimated that at least 40 species are perishing every day? Not only that, but it is estimated that at the current rate of deforestation, tropical rain forests could disappear altogether in the next 30 to 50 years. Why? Because, believe it or not, some tropical rain forests are being destroyed so that biofuel plantations can take their place.
Okay, my first question is what are they thinking? Why would you destroy a tropical rain forest – the Earth’s oldest ecosystem – to create a biofuel plantation? Back in 1990, rainforests covered about 12% of the land surface on the globe and contained between 50 and 90 percent of all species. They are also touted as global heat and water pumps because of their dramatic influence on the climate.
Per information from rainforestinfo.org, rainforests “play an important role in regulating the Earth’s atmosphere by storing carbon in their biomass. When forests are destroyed, the carbon they contain is released into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide.”
Additionally studies have shown that it would take at least 75 years for all the carbon emissions “saved” through the use of biofuels to make up for all the carbon lost through tropical deforestation. That’s an awfully long time to wait. However, if they put biofuel plantations on degraded grasslands instead of tropical rain forests, we end up with a net removal of carbon within about 10 years.
Now I am all for effective biofuels, fuel additives, etc., but I personally vote for keeping the tropical rain forests. I don’t think it’s wise to destroy something that has such a vast influence over the world and its climates.