No one knows the implications of global warming for sure. Global warming could lead to significantly raised sea levels, and flooding of some areas or even whole countries.
Global warming could also lead to more significant weather extremes (storms and droughts).
These outcomes could occur within our lifetimes. They could be happening already. Recent weather extremes all over the world such as devastating storms like Katrina might already be signs of global warming.
The implications of global warming are hard to assess because our environment is changing all the time and some changes are cyclical. What appears to beyond doubt, however, is that global temperatures are increasing and that the rate of temperature increase is unprecedented in the world’s known history.
It is also the case that humankind only started releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases relatively recently.
Greenhouse gases are those that contribute to the ‘greenhouse effect,’ trapping heat from the sun in the earth’s atmosphere. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main greenhouse gas, but there are some others including methane (CH4) and Nitrous Oxide (N2O).
Scientists point to a vast amount of analysis indicating that the greenhouse gases are causing the warming that has been measured. Even if there is a chance they are wrong, many people and organizations – including Wild Again – don’t believe this is a chance worth taking. We believe something should, and can, be done about greenhouse gases now.
CO2 emissions are the biggest part of the problem. Each time we heat or light our homes, take a flight or drive a car, CO2 is added to the atmosphere. CO2 is released when fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal are burnt.
We can all take steps to reduce the amount of CO2 we produce, and we can offset the rest. Offsetting means doing something to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere or paying someone to do it on your behalf. In that way, we can fix the damage we are causing.
Reforestation is a great way to offset CO2 emissions. As forests grow, they absorb CO2 and store that CO2 for the long term. Reforestation also provides other benefits such as rebuilding wildlife habitats and protecting against erosion and desertification.
Wild Again is an organization that aims to reduce the level of CO2 in the atmosphere by reforestation, and in doing so help in the fight against global warming.
Our projects make real reductions in CO2 that would not have happened otherwise.
Wild Again was created so that individuals and organizations can do something today. Each contribution to Wild Again will directly decrease the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere by buying land and paying for the planting of trees on that land.
Erosion and Flooding
Deforestation contributes to erosion by exposing soils to wind and rain.
Desertification is land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various factors, including deforestation.
Reforestation also helps to prevent desertification and can reverse desertification trends.
It is a common misconception that droughts cause desertification. In most cases the causes are social and economic, resulting from human intervention in the form of deforestation and over-exploitation of the land. Typically this has involved overgrazing and felling of trees and brushwood for fuel. Increased population and livestock pressure on marginal lands have accelerated desertification. Droughts are common in arid and semiarid lands. Well-managed lands can recover from drought when the rains return. Continued land abuse during droughts, however, increases land degradation.
On the Southern edge of the Sahara, an area the size of Somalia has become desert over the past 50 years. The same fate threatens more than one-third of Africa. Virtually all of the inhabited areas of Africa are prone to soil and environmental degradation in one form or another. Most regions of the continent suffer from many forms of environmental degradation, leading to desertification. The detrimental impact on food and agricultural productivity and production is enormous. The process is often not obvious because it’s usually gradual and unnoticeable.
The United Nations believes that reforestation is an effective method for repairing degraded lands and reversing the trend of desertification. In areas with more than 300 mm of rainfall per year, for example, dry reforestation can be effective when the plantation site is wisely chosen, and stream water collection techniques are applied. Below 300 mm per year, extra watering is required according to the particular features of the intervention area.
Reforestation helps to restore wildlife habitats that have been destroyed.
It is a long process, however. Wildlife habitats are typically diverse ecosystems in delicate balance. Replanting trees alone will not restore the diversity of plants and animals that were once existing on deforested land. It is only a start.
Rainforests are particularly important. A common estimate is that about half of the world’s animal species live in rainforests. Rainforests are located across the world, generally around the equator, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Rainforests cover about 6 percent of the earth’s land surface.
Image of only 1800, there were 2.9 billion hectares of tropical forest worldwide. There are 1.5 billion hectares of tropical forest remaining now. We lose 50 species every day – 2 species per hour – to tropical deforestation.
If the current rate of deforestation continues, the world’s rainforests will vanish within 100 years, and we will have eliminated most of the plant and animal species on the planet.
Rainforests provide an incredible variety of plants in which wildlife can thrive:
There may be as many as 300 different species of rainforest trees in 1 square kilometer.
780 tree species have been found in a 10-hectare plot of Malaysian rainforest — more than the total number of tree species native to the US and Canada.
An area of woodland containing ten species of trees in the UK would contain 180 species in a tropical forest.
Just 100 hectares of Amazon rainforest can contain up to 1500 different plant species, as many as in the whole of the UK.
Wild Again works to restore natural wildlife habitats in a gradual process as forests regenerate.
Facts & Figures Relating To Deforestation, Reforestation, and Fighting Global Warming
- The net reduction in the world’s forests is estimated at 7.3 million hectares per year (an area about the size of Panama). (Source: Forestry Department Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)
- It is estimated that the world’s forests store 283 Gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon in their biomass alone and that the carbon stored in forest biomass, deadwood, litter, and soil together is roughly 50 percent more than the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. (Source: Forestry Department Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)
- Rare tree species and those highly valued for wood or non-wood forest products are often in danger of becoming extinct within parts of their range. On average, 5 percent of the tree species native to a country are either vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered. (Source: RainforestLive United Kingdom)
- The area which is prone to desertification worldwide is approximately 38 million km² of which 6.9 million km² (23 percent) are in Sub-Saharan Africa. (Source: United Nations Environment Programme)
- Around 10 million people are employed in forest management and conservation. (Source: Forestry Department Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)
- World carbon dioxide emissions are projected to rise from 26.9 billion metric tons in 2004 to 33.9 billion metric tons in 2015 and 42.9 billion metric tons in 2030. The relative contributions of different fossil fuels to total energy-related carbon dioxide emissions have changed over time. In 1990, emissions from petroleum and other liquids combustion made up an estimated 42 percent of the world total. In 2004, the petroleum share was 40 percent, and in 2030 its share is projected to be 36 percent, of the world total. Carbon dioxide emissions from natural gas combustion, which accounted for 19 percent of the total in 1990, increased to 20 percent of the 2004 total. That share is projected to rise to 21 percent in 2030. Coal’s share in 2004 was the same as its share in 1990, at 39 percent; however, its share is projected to increase to 43 percent in 2030. Coal is the most carbon-intensive of the fossil fuels, and it is the fastest-growing energy source. (Source: US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration)
- The transportation sector is the most significant producer of CO2 emissions. However, within the residential, commercial and industrial sectors, electricity generation is a major contributor. (Source: US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration)
- Average CO2 emissions per capita in the United States are about 20.18t per year. (Source: US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration)
- CO2 emissions in air travel vary by the length of the flight. Short flights are about 0.24 kg CO2 per passenger mile. Long flights are about 0.18 kg CO2 per passenger mile. A flight of about 1000 miles would, therefore, generate between 180kg and 240kg of CO2 per passenger, in each direction. It is 1000 miles, for example, between New York and Miami, or between London and Malaga (Spain). (Source: World Resources Institute)
- A single detached family home with three bedrooms and four residents generates about 1.4t of CO2 per year. (Source: CarbonFund)
- An apartment in a large apartment building with one bedroom and two residents generate about 0.9t of CO2 per year. (Source: CarbonFund)
- Driving a late model mid-sized car about 6000 to 10,000 miles per year generates about 3.4t of CO2 per year. (Source: CarbonFund)
- The emissions from electricity depend on how it is generated. The UK government department in charge of climate change issues publishes a figure of 0.43 kg of CO2 per kWh of electricity. This represents a mix of coal, gas, nuclear and renewable energy used in the UK. So for example 10 standard 100W light bulbs left on for an hour (which could consume about 1kWh of electricity) would create about 0.43 kg of CO2. (Source: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – United Kingdom)
- In China, where large scale destruction of forests has occurred, the government has in the past required that every non-disabled citizen between the ages of 11 and 60 plant three to five trees per year or do the equivalent amount of work in other forest services. The government claims that at least 1 billion trees have been planted in China every year since 1982. (Source: Wikipedia)