Over 40 million trees are destroyed every day.
Each crisis we now face reinforces and intensifies other crises and is in turn intensified by them in a planet-wide biofeedback loop. When trees disappear, rains disappear. Animals disappear. Rivers disappear. Microbiology in the soil dies. Temperatures rise, creating conditions for megafires like those which continue to devastate Australia, California, the Amazon, and Indonesian rainforests.
In turn the megafires then continue to amplify droughts and deforestation, and vast amounts of carbon are released into the atmosphere where they feedback to further intensify global warming. Systemic distortions continue to ripple outward, eroding and dis-integrating other systems, large and small, all across the planet.
Firefighter Austin Rauh’s POV, California 2020
“The restoration of trees remains among the most effective strategies for climate change mitigation. Our results highlight the urgent need for action.”
– Science Magazine, Jul 2019: Vol. 365
Scientists call it the Holocene – the 6th mass extinction event in Earth’s 5-billion year history. Hundreds of species are going extinct every day – some 70,000 species per year. Nearly 200 species every day. The disappearance of these species has a profound and irreversible impact on plants, animals, and ecosystems planet-wide.
It’s not just species we’ve never heard of and don’t know. Large keystone species, animals that we know and love – lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, gorillas, orangutans – are predicted by some scientists to be extinct in the wild within one generation.
When we lose a habitats’ trees, we lose its species.
For animals in the rainforest this is the apocalypse
No animals can survive when the forest is razed. Food, water, homes, & species disappear. This female is being rescued, but all the other animals in her destroyed forest will die of starvation and exposure. Orangutans who survive are usually children taken from the arms of their dying mothers and sold as pets to live and die in cages.
This is happening to animals and forests everywhere.
In the 1930s Yellowstone decided to remove all wolves from the park. The following decades revealed a landscape-scale paradigm of interbeing: with the disappearance of the wolves, lakes disappeared, species vanished, forests disappeared, and the Yellowstone River itself left its banks and changed course. In 1995 they decided to reintroduce the wolves. Whole cascades of animals who had vanished, reappeared. Beavers returned and recreated lakes that had been lost, which generated the reappearance of myriads of plants and animals whose existence depended upon those lakes. Forests reappeared on mountainsides and in valleys. The Yellowstone River left its banks again, and reclaimed its original course. Yellowstone is a dramatic example of trophic cascade and the stabilizing impact animals have in the delicate balance of the ecosystem in which they live.
The ground itself is where the Earth stores most of her carbon. Razing the trees releases into the atmosphere not only that carbon but the carbon also held by the fallen trees. Increased atmospheric carbon works with other factors to break down the ecosystems that help regulate the climate. As a result the planet heats up, ice caps melt, seas rise, and catastrophic weather phenomena ensue. Ecosystems experience further erosion as emerging and converging changes accelerate destabilization.
One generation from now the future is certain to be vastly different, potentially much more dangerous, and terminal for a vast number of species.
“Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.”
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Humanity plays a pivotal role. Human activities are dis-integrating the ecosystems upon which our lives depend. This year we are razing 15 billion trees – more than 40 million trees a day. Next year that number will be higher. Most of these trees come from the rainforests of South America, central Africa, and Indonesia. Palm oil, agriculture, cattle, and logging are the industries primarily responsible. As consumers we are too often indifferent to the impacts of our habits. If we cannot regulate our consumption, our population, and the Wild-Urban Interface, as well as engage in sustainable stewardship, civilization as we know it cannot be sustained. As converging crises expand, our chances for survival shrink.