We lose 15 billion trees every year.

Converging Crises

Every crisis we now face intensifies the other crises and is in turn intensified by them. It is a global biofeedback loop. When trees disappear, rains disappear. The land dries out and temperatures rise creating conditions for megafires like those which recently devastated Australia, California, the Amazon, and Indonesian rainforests. In turn the megafires then continue to amplify droughts, deforestation, and global warming. Systemic distortions continue to ripple outward, eroding and disintegrating other systems, large and small, throughout the biosphere.

Firefighter Austin Rauh’s POV, California 2020

Mass Extinction

Scientists call it the Holocene – the 6th mass extinction event in Earth’s 5-billion year history. Hundreds of species are going extinct every day – some 70,000 species per year. The disappearance of these species has a profound and irreversible impact on plants, animals, and ecosystems planet-wide.

It’s not just species we’ve never heard of and don’t know. Large keystone species, animals that we know and love like lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, gorillas, and orangutans are predicted by some scientists to be extinct in the wild within one generation.

When we lose a habitats’ trees, we lose its species.

Pandemic extinction

For animals in the rainforest this is the apocalypse:

Watch the video here.

No animals can survive when the forest is razed. Food, water, homes, & species disappear. This female is being rescued, but nearly all the other animals will die of starvation and exposure. Orangutans who survive are usually children taken from the arms of their dying mothers and sold as pets to live and die in cages.

This is happening to animals and forests everywhere.

Destabilized ecosystems

When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone in 1995, whole cascades of animals reappeared who had vanished after the 1930s when the wolves were removed. Beavers returned and recreated lakes that had been lost, which in turn generated the reappearance of myriads of plants and animals whose existence depended upon those lakes. Wide forests of aspen and cottonwood reappeared on the mountainsides and in the valleys. The Yellowstone River itself left its banks and reclaimed its original course that had been lost after the wolves were removed. The reintroduction of the wolves is a dramatic example of trophic cascade and the far-reaching impacts animals have on the delicate balance of the ecosystems in which they live.

Ecological imbalance
Global warming

Global warming

The ground itself is where the Earth stores most of her carbon. Razing the trees releases into the atmosphere not only that carbon but the carbon also held by the trees cut down. Increased atmospheric carbon works with other factors to break down the ecosystems that help regulate the climate. As a result the planet heats up, ice caps melt, seas rise, and catastrophic weather phenomena ensue. Ecosystems experience further erosion as emerging and converging changes accelerate destabilization.

One generation from now the future is certain to be vastly different, potentially much more dangerous, and possibly terminal for a vast number of species.

“Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.”

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Extinction & deforestation
Commercial Deforestation

Commercial Deforestation

Humanity plays a pivotal role. Human activities are dis-integrating the ecosystems upon which our lives depend. This year we are razing 15 billion trees. Next year that number will be higher. Most of these trees come from the rainforests of South America, central Africa, and Indonesia. Palm oil, agriculture, cattle, and logging are the industries primarily responsible. As consumers we are too often indifferent to the impacts of our habits. If we cannot regulate our consumption, our population, and the Wild-Urban Interface, as well as engage in sustainable stewardship, civilization as we know it will collapse. As converging crises expand, our chances for survival shrink. 

“The restoration of trees remains among the most effective strategies for climate change mitigation. Our results highlight the urgent need for action.”

Science Magazine, Jul 2019: Vol. 365