Deforestation in Brazil Leads to Massive CO2 Emissions

Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil has made that country one of the world’s top 10 sources of atmospheric carbon dioxide pollution. Often called the “lungs of the world,” the Amazon is bigger than the continental U.S., and loses an area bigger than New Jersey every year to deforestation. The result of this logging and burning is some 220 million tons of CO2 emitted each year, boosting Brazil’s total to around 330 million tons. Brazil has ratified the Kyoto Protocol but is under no obligation under that treaty to cut emissions, as very little of its CO2 comes from burning fossil fuels. Deforestation is a particularly grim way to contribute to global warming, as it does very little to contribute to the economy or improve the circumstances of the country’s citizens. Jose Domingos Miguez, Brazil’s general-coordinator of climate change, points out that his country produces only 3 percent of the world’s CO2, roughly equivalent to the size of its economy. The U.S., which hasn’t ratified Kyoto, produces about 25 percent.