Deforestation is the act of clearing the greenery and vegetation on Earth on a large scale. It occurs when trees and entire forests are cut down and cleared away for various purposes. This brings a lot of damage to the Earth’s surface, simultaneously creating environmental problems as well. Forests account for 30% of the Earth’s land, and they are an asset to the world’s ecosystem, however, much of this area is cleared away and vacated by mankind to serve their purposes. Although deforestation is done for needs such as housing, residence, mining, shopping and other means, it has serious effects on the environment and living things, and it generally affects all spheres of life. All of the forests on Earth could disappear if the current rate of rapid deforestation is kept up. Deforestation also has serious effects on the social, economic and political dynamics of the world as well. Deforestation is a great threat to the safety and sustenance of human life, and it is very harmful to the planet as well.
People have been chopping trees for centuries because of building purposes, for fuel and lumber and for making furniture and other equipment. However, as the world’s population grew, the space for accommodating people also lessened. Hence, forests were cleared away with a large amount of trees being cut down to make room for homes. Also, roads and shopping malls, as well as offices, schools, universities, needed to be built on the land. Thus, the greenery had to be
eliminated so that more room could be given to these projects and mankind could settle more easily on Earth.
Not only that, with a booming population, farmers felt the need that more land was required for crops and plantation, hence forests were cut down to the land could be turned into fields for farming purposes. The cleared land was also utilized for raising livestock, and they could graze on it easily. Agriculture happens to be the biggest reason for deforestation in the world. Since there are many varieties of crops that need to be grown, more and more land is required for agricultural practices. Many farmers in various countries have a procedure known as ‘slash and burn’ in agriculture where they clear away a few acres of forests and cut down trees to provide enough for feeding their family by farming on that land. If this is done by many families, then deforestation would occur on a large scale. Logging is also one such activity which causes deforestation. It is used to make up for a large amount of paper requirement of the world. Loggers, some of which work illegally, make paths and roads to create access to forests by roads so they can cut down more trees. This leads to deforestation as well.
At times, deforestation is not intentional and done by mankind. There are various reasons due to which forests finish away eventually. Wildfires are a natural cause which catches on and burn trees and vegetation. Overgrazing and lack of enough water supply and rain can also lead to eventual deforestation in an area. According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), about half of the world’s forests have been cleared away till date. Forest losses make up about 6-12% of the global loss of forests and vegetation. The World Wildlife Fund reports that about the size of 36 football fields the area of trees is cut down every minute in the world.
Deforestation has various effects on the planet and the environment as well. Firstly, it is a well-established fact that trees clean up the environment, and they are a major contributor to the production of oxygen gas and the absorber of carbon dioxide in the air. Trees also help to keep the temperature lower and the surroundings cooler. Thus, they help to maintain the delicate balance of gases and moisture in the air so that human life can survive healthily and safely. Therefore, the major effect of deforestation is the change in global temperature and climate change. The most prominent effect that the activity has on the environment is the imbalance of the carbon cycle. The greenhouse gases absorb the sun’s infrared radiation and trap it. If the greenhouse gases are present in the Earth’s atmosphere in abundance, then they can eventually trap a lot of infrared radiation causing the climate to change drastically. Oxygen is the quintessential gas for the environment, and it does not absorb any infrared radiation from the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases, on the other hand, do absorb infrared radiation. Carbon dioxide is the most common gas present in the air which absorbs infrared radiation. It was recorded in the year 2012, that carbon dioxide made up for 80% of all the greenhouse gases in the United States. Trees come into the scenario as they can take up 300 billion tons of carbon and store it, which is 40 times the amount that is released from fossil fuels and emissions from vehicles and factories. However, when deforestation occurs, it causes the release of carbon dioxide into the air. This happens because when trees die they have carbon dioxide stored in them. This is released out to the atmosphere, and much of the carbon dioxide present in the air is unabsorbed. This causes the temperature to rise as the gases present in the air absorb all the radiation.
Not only that, but deforestation also decreases the amount of water vapor in the air. It has causes global vapor to decrease by 4% all around the world. This also causes climatic change as the weather becomes hot, dry and there are more chances of droughts and longer summers.
Not only these, but deforestation also affects other factors as well. The most major factor is the loss of species and their habitat. Much of the wildlife resides in trees and forests, and once they are cleared, they have no place to go. Many birds belong to the tropical region and cannot survive anywhere else even upon migration. About 70% of the world’s species reside in trees and forests and when these are cleared away many of them die or become endangered if not rescued and rehabilitated. This also affects the local populations which rely on these animals for their food and other purposes. Trees and forests are also known for the herbs and medicine they provide for medicinal and beauty purposes, and they have various needs as dyes and substances. The world suffers from a loss of all these when the forests are cut down.
Deforestation also affects the water cycle. The roots of the trees absorb rainwater and produce water vapor into the atmosphere. They are also responsible for reducing pollution in water by absorbing pollutants and chemicals with nitrogen and phosphorus. It, therefore, prevents polluted runoff into the water bodies in times of flood. Trees also prevent soil erosion. They anchor the soil, and they hold it together and stop it from getting washed away when gushes of water run over it. If the soil is blown away or runs off, it can be devastating to the crops and vegetation as all the important nutrients are wasted from the surface runoff. Cutting off trees leaves the soil exposed to the water and wind, and they easily blow it away leaving behind infertile soil. Soil erosion is also harmful because the soil can accumulate in water bodies which can decrease the water quality of the water bodies. It can also be harmful to the health of individuals and lead to polluted water.
There are several impacts of deforestation namely, social, economic and political. The social impacts relate to the society and the people who are going to be affected by deforestation. Firstly, it is the health impacts that the society will face. When there is more deforestation, there are greater chances of a more polluted area to live in and that area will also have a higher temperature due to a lack of moisture and water vapor that is usually harbored by trees. Consequently, these people will have to live in a drier and hotter environment. After a period of time, the climatic change will be greater, and the temperature will rise higher. There are greater chances of flooding as well as hot and dry summers. This will cause social unrest and disturbance when the world will face the effects of global warming by uninvited floods and unexpected droughts. Famines might also be common as they can accompany droughts and the surface runoff might lead to insufficient production of crops and vegetation. Water wars might become the new form of feud and provinces, and States might be fighting over their waters and rivers as the water cycle is disturbed by deforestation. Deforestation also leads to social corruption because people resort to illegal means of obtaining timber and wood and for cutting down trees without permission from the government agencies. Mining activities are of the most interest for people and in the lust for gaining money from this activity, people tend to compromise on their values. If the society does not think that it is a problem, then they will not think of putting an end to deforestation.
The economic impacts of deforestation are actually quite enough for the society. People make a lot of profitable money from the act of deforestation because the people ordering it are going to invest a lot on the land to make it useful for some other purpose like housing, parking space, malls, and plazas or maybe for agricultural purposes. If a coal mine is going to operate, then there is a lot of profit in for them. Thus, deforestation provides a lot of jobs for woodcutters and people who clear out the forests, and they are paid handsomely for the deed. These people support their families by cutting trees, even if occasionally and selling the wood in the market. If a ban is placed on deforestation, then many people will lose their jobs and become unemployed.
It affects the economy negatively as well. Tourism is badly affected. Many people travel all the way from other countries just to experience the natural beauty of the forests and wish to take a tour in them. However with a lack of forest and cleared away greeneries there is a great lapse in tourism and countries suffer from a deprived tourism industry. Many of the countries depend on their natural beauty such as forests and valleys for tourism and if these fail then the economy can fall into recession.
Lastly, there are political repercussions of deforestation as well. Deforestation leads to exploitation at the hands of political parties and government authorities. Those who grant permission for deforestation get their guaranteed cut in the deal, and they promote the idea that deforestation is all right and should be continued as a beneficial act to humanity (Butler). On the other hand, whenever political turnovers occur, there are changes in the illegal act of logging, and while some political bodies promote it, others are adamant that it should be continued, even if covertly (Butler). Forests cannot be cleared without political intervention because they are the country’s property and not any one man’s. Therefore, there have been many political orders given to many companies to clear away forests just so they can have their way and allow illegal activities to take place even if deforestation means there will be an inevitable loss of habitat for many species (Butler). Hence, it can be said that deforestation is a politically corruptive activity, and it can cause a lot of damage to the environment, the society and to the economy.
In my opinion, deforestation is an activity which harms the environment, the society and the well-being of mankind. It occurs when a large area of trees and vegetation is cleared away for agriculture, housing, mining, shopping plazas and other purposes. It can lead to global warming by retention of carbon dioxide in the air. It can also lead to high global climates, disturbed water cycle, soil erosion, floods and loss of habitat for many species. Society is corrupted and has to face global effects. Economically, tourism is affected because the lack of trees and forests accounts for it and political corruption leads to deforestation in the first place. It should be banned, and people need to understand the value of greenery and forests so they can sustain their lives on this planet, for themselves and their future generations.
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