Rain forest plays a vital role of acting as carbon sinks through the process of photosynthesis. The soils and vegetation of the global rain forests contain approximately one hundred and twenty five percent of the total amount of atmospheric carbon. When forests are degraded, burnt or cleared, the opposite effect is achieved. This implies that large carbon amounts are released into the atmosphere in from of carbon dioxide.
The burning of forests on the other hand, results to release of approximately two billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually (Kalman, 2005)Due to the fact that trees take in carbon dioxide in order to synthesize simple sugars or food, cutting down of trees would cause the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
According to several research studies, deforestation accounts for twenty percent of the global warming effect. Since global warming results from accumulation of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it is clear that deforestation leads to accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (Kalman, 2005).The process through which plants use solar energy to make food is known as photosynthesis. In addition to utilizing light energy, photosynthesis uses carbon dioxide to produce triose phosphates, also known as simple sugars.
There are two stages involved in photosynthesis reaction. The fist stage involves capturing of light energy through the light-dependent reaction to producing high-energy molecules. In the second stage, the high-energy molecules formed in the first stage are used by light-dependent reactions to capture carbon dioxide, which aids in the formation of carbohydrate precursors (Ernst, 2000).During the light reaction, one photon is absorbed while an electron is lost by one molecule of chlorophyll pigment.
Most plants including trees are photoautotrophic. This means that they have the ability to make food directly using light and inorganic compound substrates. Plants can therefore synthesize their own food from the sun instead of consuming other organisms or depending on nutrients obtained from other organisms. Photosynthesis is a process that utilizes carbon dioxide and releases oxygen as the by product. It is therefore clear that through photosynthesis, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels can be lowered (Ernst, 2000).
The following equation illustrates the process of photosynthesis:
6 Carbon dioxide molecules + 6 Water molecules + Photons -------- Glucose + 6 Oxygen molecules.
Destruction of plants limits photosynthesis process and hence reduces elimination of carbon dioxide. Although human beings are in no danger of suffocating due to limited photosynthesis, the effect adversely affects the atmosphere. When there are only a few plants to undergo the process of photosynthesis, a small amount of oxygen is produced and large amounts of carbon dioxide accumulate within the atmosphere.
This results to a more powerful greenhouse effect which damages the ozone layer and leads to global warming. Research studies have shown that planting plants within home helps in purifying the air by producing oxygen, filtering out unwanted substances and lowering carbon dioxide levels (Kalman, 2005).
Ernst, W. G. (2000). Earth systems: Processes and issues. Cambridge University Press
Kalman, B. (2005). Photosynthesis: Changing Sunlight into Food. Crabtree Publishing Company