Drought could turn Amazon into desert, researchers warn

The Amazon rainforest — soon to be called The Artist Formerly Known as the Amazon Rainforest, and then just some weird little symbol — appears to be undergoing a second year of drought, and that has researchers seriously alarmed. Starting in 2002, scientists at the Woods Hole Research Center simulated drought on a small section of the Amazon and found that after two years, the trees began to die, fall, and release more than two-thirds of their lifetime storage of carbon dioxide. Widespread desertification of the rainforest would likely spread drought into the northern hemisphere; the Amazon contains 90 billion tons of CO2, enough to accelerate global warming by 50 percent, spinning it out of control and eventually making the world uninhabitable. Computer models predict that harm to 50 percent of the Amazon would represent a tipping point — after that, the whole thing starts going down the tubes. Today, about 20 percent has been totally razed and 22 percent has been harmed by logging. Oy. It’s only Tuesday and we’re already doomed.