The Amazon could have passed the point of no return

The Amazon River seen from the sky - Credits : Wikipedia

A new study has exposed how deforestation, climate change and other factors could push the Amazon forest, the veritable lungs of the planet, past the point of no return. 

The world’s rainforests are receding, starting with the Amazon. According to a new study published in Science Advances, 17% of the Amazon forest has disappeared in the last 50 years. If this figure reaches 20%, the situation could be catastrophic. This is the warning of two researchers, Brazilian Carlos Nobre and American Thomas Lovejoy, who tasked themselves with concretely establishing the “tipping point”.

While deforestation and fire damage -which allow for human activities (mining, agriculture, energy and transport infrastructure) -pose imminent and serious risks for the tropical forest, these are not the only threats for the ecosystem. Climate change also plays a major role. Rising temperatures and decreasing rainfall have caused significant droughts (in 2005 and 2010, the Amazon suffered the worst droughts in the last hundred years). These droughts dry out the streams, decimating the fish population and causing forest fires, which significantly upsets the ecosystems.

Degradation of the water cycle also has a severe impact on the human population in South America. As well as housing 50 to 70% of the world’s biodiversity and being the largest river basin on the planet, this territory also houses 30 million people, the majority of whom live off the forest.