How Environmentalists Killed The Trees

Brendan Borrell thinks our obsession with climate change helped accelerate disastrous deforestation:

Even if we consider the impact of environmental degradation on humanity, deforestation has a more significant and immediate impact on local weather, water availability, water quality, and soil erosion than does global climate change from greenhouse gases.

The roots of trees and native brush hold loose, nutrient-rich topsoils together, slowing erosion and absorbing precipitation. You can see the impact of habitat loss on local climate by poking a stick into the parched soils of the Brazilian cerrado or wandering along the boundary of the expanding Sahel Desert in Africa. Then there's Cherrapunjee, India, once considered the wettest place on Earthand now facing climbing temperatures and water shortages as the once lush landscape has been denuded.

Only recently have conservationists begun to grasp what a debacle it was to enact climate change legislation in Europe without first putting in place global deforestation treaties. EU policies promoting a market for biofuels triggered the destruction of Indonesian rain forests in favor of palm plantations.