Forests are important natural resources that are used in, among many other processes, maintaining essential ecological processes. Unfortunately, their increased value among human has seen their size around the world deplete at a very alarming rate (BBC, 2005). This is especially, in the developing countries where forests are not well protected. This has led to, among many other effects, the increase in the greenhouse effect phenomena leading to global warming. This essay will focus on how the forest has contributed to the increase in the greenhouse effect.
Deforestation is the clearance of the world forests in a massive scale (National Geographic, 2011). Massive track of forest cover equivalent to the size of Panama are lost each year. It is estimated that, the world rain forest could completely varnish in the next hundred years, if the current trends of deforestation continue. People cut down trees for many reasons. However, the biggest motivator for deforestation is to gain access to land for use in settlement and agriculture. Other reasons may include; to gain access to wood fuel, access to timber resources, overgrazing and other causes. Deforestation may be due to natural causes such as wild fire. Deforestation has numerous environmental effects, among them being the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The greenhouse effect is the process by which the sun’s radiations being absorbed and later emitted by the earth are trapped by the greenhouse gases leading to the warming of the earth (BBC, 2005). This process is what supports life on earth as without this heat it would be too cold for any form of life to survive. These greenhouse gases include; carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and water Vapor (H2O). However, the word in the last century has witnessed the level of greenhouse gases increase leading to increase in the greenhouse effect therefore causing a global increase in temperature. It has been recorded that, in the last 20 years spring temperatures have risen by 1.1 degree centigrade and 0.8 degrees centigrade in the Northern Hemisphere (Debasmita, 2008)
Deforestation is partly to blame for this increase in global temperature. Looking at the composition of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, CO2 is the most abundant of the greenhouse gases (Michael & Jones, 2010). Some scientist have recorded that the volume of the CO2 gas in the atmosphere has increased by 35% in the last three hundred years. This means that CO2 is the largest single cause of global warming. An important relationship exists between forests and the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. Trees take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere which it utilizes for photosynthesis and release Oxygen in return. Trees have a large storage capacity for carbon dioxide with a single mature tree being capable of absorbing CO2 at the rate of 48 lbs. per year and release a good amount of oxygen back into the atmosphere (Debasmita, 2008).
The rapid depletion of forest around the world has reduced the CO2 regulatory capacity of the forests. The forest cover has radically diminished over the last century consequently leading to the increase in the greenhouse gas phenomena (National Geographic, 2011). Apart from the CO2 absorption role of the tree, they also reduce the warming effects by reducing the rate of evaporation. Without the trees, the ground loses water at a faster rate through evaporation. Water vapor is also a greenhouse gas which also causes an increase in the greenhouse effect. The tree canopies also provide a shade preventing the sun’s rays from reaching the ground and therefore reducing the amount of heat radiation emitted by the earth to be trapped by the greenhouse gases.
Global warming may seem as nice phenomena but has very large adverse effects. Evidences are now clear that the world icecaps and glaciers have begun to melt leading to their reduction in sizes. It has been estimated that in the last two decades the polar ice caps, which forms the world largest glaziers, have rapidly diminished in size with the thickness decreasing from 15 feet in 1980 to just about 8 feet in 2003 (Witness Journal, 2003). The continued melting of these glaziers and icecaps will lead to a rise in sea level consequently leading to a lot of land being submerged under the water. This would mean millions of people who are currently living in the coastal areas losing their homes. Other effects of global warming include; warmer waters and more destructive sea waves such as hurricanes; increased intensity of draught; physical injury or death to human, animals and plants through heat waves; spread of tropical diseases such a malaria and negative economic consequences associated with settlement and agricultural land being submerged underwater, loss of tourism attraction among many other impacts.
In conclusion, the world has experienced most of its forest cover being depleted in the last century. This act of deforestation has led to many adverse effects, including causing an increase in the greenhouse effect resulting in the rise in global temperatures. Deforestation means more CO2 in the atmosphere and therefore an increase in the greenhouse effect. Continued trend in global warming are bound to have significant impacts on earth and therefore deforestation need to be curbed in order to avert this crisis.
BBC (2005). Deforestation and the Greenhouse Effect. April 17, 2010. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A3556848
Debasmita (2008). Increasing Global Warming Decreases Forests’ CO2- Absorption Capacity. April 17, 2010. Available at http://www.greendiary.com/entry/increasing-global-warming-decreases-forests-co2-absorption-capacity/
Michael P & Jones Scott (2010). Introduction to the Atmosphere. April 17, 2010. Available at http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7a.html
National Geographic (2011). Deforestation. April 17, 2010. Available at http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/deforestation-overview.html
Witness Journal (2011). Melting Ice caps and Melting Glaziers. April 17, 2010. Available at http://www.awitness.org/journal/melt_ice_cap_glacier.html