Amazon rainforest now emitting more CO2 than it absorbs

(The Guardian, 14 Jul 2021) Cutting emissions more urgent than ever, say scientists, with forest producing more than a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

The Amazon rainforest is now emitting more carbon dioxide than it is able to absorb, scientists have confirmed for the first time.

The emissions amount to a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, according to a study. The giant forest had previously been a carbon sink, absorbing the emissions driving the climate crisis, but is now causing its acceleration, researchers said.

Most of the emissions are caused by fires, many deliberately set to clear land for beef and soy production. But even without fires, hotter temperatures and droughts mean the south-eastern Amazon has become a source of CO2, rather than a sink.

Growing trees and plants have taken up about a quarter of all fossil fuel emissions since 1960, with the Amazon playing a major role as the largest tropical forest. Losing the Amazon’s power to capture CO2 is a stark warning that slashing emissions from fossil fuels is more urgent than ever, scientists said.

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The Guardian, 14 Jul 2021: Amazon rainforest now emitting more CO2 than it absorbs