Imagine a rainforest with misty, lush canopies creating a vibrant green carpet over sloping valleys; sunlight dances down along the leaves, branches, and trunks until it is only a rare glow in the dense, dimlit undergrowth. The forest is alive with the heat and humidity, with the cacophony of birds, the chattering of primates and monkeys, and the hum of insects all foraging through the greenery. This is an idealistic rainforest, still unspoiled by man’s industry, the desire for conquest and dominion still held at bay while the living things grow and die in a perpetual cycle of survival. However, these quixotic notions hide the ravages of man; there are no pretty stories of how empty the land becomes after deforestation or of the extinction of many species due to habitat destruction and fragmentation. People take rainforests for granted, seizing whatever may be deemed valuable without caring for the aftermath. These forests, growing on continents like Asia, Africa, and South America, have much to offer if only humans can remember that they share the planet – they do not own the Earth. Yet, despite being hot spots of biodiversity and recent growing awareness, rainforests worldwide still suffer from human maltreatment and deserve more focus in conservation and restoration efforts for their many ecological services.
Impacts of Rainforests on Global Climate Change
Recently global climate change has been one of the foremost controversial and problematic issues, from bothering human activities to threatening the existence of various species. However, tropical rainforests offer a solution to increasing greenhouse gases by acting as carbon sinks and sequesters, cycling and storing carbon dioxide in its vegetation and soil. People experience the change through increased temperatures, unusual natural catastrophes like flooding and drought, and impacts on livelihoods and crops. Other organisms, however, can feel the effects of climate change much more harshly such as habitat loss. According to Yadvinder Malhi in his article “The carbon balance of tropical forest regions, 1990-2005,”
If the tropical biomass carbon sink were not present and this excess carbon were instead allocated to ocean and atmospheric pools at the current fractions (but not to the remaining land pool), atmospheric carbon dioxide would be rising at a mean rate 17% higher than that currently observed, and oceans would absorb a further 0.4 Pg C year-1, an additional cause of ocean acidiﬁcation and coral reef decline. This is a substantial global ecosystem service that intact tropical biomes appear to be currently providing. (Malhi 2010)
Most people misconceive global climate change as simply an effect on weather, not seeing how different parts of the world are simultaneously affecting one another. The loss of tropical forests would mean a significant blow to global biodiversity due to loss of habitat, resources, and services.
Some people argue that tropical forests are...