the present forest size. Even at a reduced 30.6% of global land area, we -as a species - use much more than this 2.5% growth – for lumber, furniture, building materials, other wood products, heat, and fuel. In addition to being good for human psychology (we have an ancient link to the trees and feel happier when among them 106 ), trees provide many other services. They are home to myriad species of birds and animals and are essential for the cycling of nutrients, water and air quality much more benefiting humans and other species. Forests are among the most densely productive habitats for life and speciation. They prevent soil erosion and landslides. Their roots help fracture silicate rocks, which maintains the ocean’s pH at levels allowing animals to use carbonate minerals for their skeletons. Indeed, trees are such an integral part of life on Earth that it is hard to think of an important ecological process they do not affect in some way. Still, the amount of carbon flux held in trees at any given time is far less than that sequestered in fossil carbon deposits. If we had to heat our homes during winter in the USA at current levels using only wood, our hardwood forests would be gone in less than a decade. 107 If that sounds hypothetical, it isn’t: it’s a scenario which has been repeated many times in human history. Before Europeans arrived, it was said the Great Eastern Forest was so vast a squirrel could travel from the Northeast to the Mississippi without touching the ground. In the USA some of this deforestation has been reversed since switching to (once abundant) fossil energy. Moreover, carbon cycling only works while conditions are conducive for forests to thrive. A warming of only a few degrees in climate is enough to convert many forests from “carbon sink” to “carbon source,” as fire and decay would release more CO 2 into the air than the diminished forests can sequester. To wit: Australia 2020. TaaL: Earth’s forests are among the real treasures of your planet. The Amazon rainforest has – for good reason – been called the “Lungs of the Earth,” an enormous self -contained self-renewing oxygen factory and storehouse of biodiversity, so big it creates its own rainfall. Of course, it is now being de-forested at a frantic pace, the fires and smoke visible from space as the “gene agendas” of tens of millions of humans seek a few years’ GDP boost from converting dense living rainforest into low-grade pasture for fast-food burgers, before the few nutrients are exhausted and the land ceases to support much life.
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