Impacts That Deforestation Has on the Environment
Paragraph 1: Lead Overview
The physical nature can be described as a collection of ecosystems comprising rivers, forests, and mountains. Ecosystems essentially consist of both biotic and abiotic components and how they are linked to each other. These links occur through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Examples of such links include the carbon cycle and the water cycle. The carbon cycle is basically the process by which carbon is interchanged from the atmosphere into organisms and then back into the atmosphere (Mitchard, 2018). Keep in mind that all living things are made up of carbon atoms; therefore, there needs to be a constant supply of said atoms. The carbon cycle takes place in a series of steps; first, plants absorb carbon in the atmosphere through photosynthesis. Take note that there are various carbon cycles, for example, those that occur on land and those that take place in the ocean. However, for now, I will just focus on the land carbon cycle. In the second step, some animals consume plants, accumulating carbon in their bodies. Third, at some point, the animals will die or be eaten by others, which will also eventually die, and through decomposing bacteria, the carbon in their bodies is released into the atmosphere. Notably, not all of the carbon is released into the atmosphere; some of it ends up as fossil fuel, which can then be used by people in human activities, releasing the carbon into the atmosphere. Remarkably, the carbon cycle involving fossil fuels or sedimentary rocks takes longer to complete, possibly centuries, and its slow natural degradation ensures a balance in carbon released.
Paragraph 2: Disruption of the Carbon Cycle
For such ecosystems to function properly, they have to remain healthy. A healthy ecosystem is when all interactions are stable and balanced, leading to a sustainable cycle. However, sometimes these ecosystems can experience disruptions, leading to unstable cycles. Having said that, there are various ways in which this carbon cycle can be disrupted. For example, deforestation can lead to less carbon absorption from the atmosphere, leading to carbon accumulation in the air (Mitchard, 2018). Another disruption of the carbon cycle is the burning of fossil fuels in excessive amounts. Excessive fossil fuel combustion releases carbon in the atmosphere faster than the natural systems can absorb it. Such disruptions lead to imbalances as there is more carbon than the systems can handle, thereby creating toxic environments.
Paragraph 3: Disruption of the Hydrologic Cycle
Another adverse impact of deforestation is the disruption of the hydrologic or water cycle. Simply put, this is the cycle that water undergoes from liquid to vapor as it evaporates from water bodies, condenses into clouds, and precipitates as rain or snow back to earth (Tague, Moritz & Hanan, 2019). Disruption in the water cycle can happen for various reasons, including deforestation, construction of hydraulic dams, animal farming, burning fossil fuels, and irrigation. These activities lead to the depletion of water bodies, which then disrupts the water cycle because little water evaporates; therefore, no precipitation will occur.
Paragraph 4: The Relation of Deforestation to Species Diversity
Next, let us talk about species diversity. Over the last few decades, the rate at which the diversity of living things is decreasing is very concerning. For example, did you know that since 1970, there has been a 60% decline in the total number of vertebrates globally (Green et al., 2020)? In addition, as of 2018, the human and livestock biomass, 0.16 gigatons, vastly outweighed the biomass of wild animals, which was 0.009 gigatons. More shockingly, researchers estimate that the current rate of species loss is approximately one to five species every year (Díaz-Reviriego, Turnhout & Beck, 2019). That is not all; another report showed that human activities are responsible for approximately one million plant and animal species facing extinction. We are in the Anthropocene era, which means that we humans are the dominant species, and we have the dominant influence on the planet, including water, land, and space, among others (Edwards, 2015). Sadly, due to this dominance, we are rapidly degrading all these systems through pollution, urbanization, and technology, which all lead to negative effects, including species loss. In short, at this rate, we are responsible for the next extinction event.
Let us go back to the carbon cycle. As you recall, I talked about how various causes can disrupt the carbon cycle. Let me elaborate on deforestation. As you know, deforestation is the clearing of forests or land for farming, building, or other uses that require clear land. Remember, I also mentioned how plants are a major component in the carbon cycle because they convert atmospheric carbon organic compounds and release oxygen. Side note: The Amazon forest is known as the lungs of planet Earth because the plants there are responsible for the absorption of a lot of carbon from the atmosphere. Notably, plants not only absorb carbon from the atmosphere but also store it in their leaves, branches, and roots. And when a plant is burnt or cut down, the carbon is released back into the atmosphere. Basically, plants are carbon sinks, and when these sinks are eliminated, there will be an accumulation of carbon in the atmosphere. This accumulation of carbon dioxide forms like a blanket in the atmosphere that prevents heat from the earth’s surface from escaping the earth’s atmosphere. Eventually, heat trapped causes climate change, like extreme temperatures, drought, flooding, and rising sea levels.
Next, let us explore how deforestation also affects the water cycle. The water cycle is the result of evaporating water from water bodies; however, this is not the case for places far from big water bodies. In such places, rainwater is obtained from plants through transpiration (Pearce, 2018). Essentially, plants obtain water from deep underground waterbeds and release it into the air through transpiration (Pearce, 2018). The water then evaporates, condenses, and then precipitates later on. Suppose there were no trees or trees were cut down; then, in that case, the underground waterbeds cannot be accessed, and no evaporation would occur. Essentially, the water cycle is broken.
Moreover, I mentioned earlier the Anthropocene era, which simply means that humans have the most impact on earth right now through the changes they bring about. One of these changes is deforestation in efforts to build more cities for farming and mining resources. Take note that forests contain incredible concentrations of species. Deforestation means clearing out large pieces of land, which include numerous species of trees and habitats of numerous species of animals, bacteria, and fungi, just to name a few (Giam, 2017). This extinction is due to the loss of species life and through loss of habitat or becoming casualties to cruel deforestation techniques like using fire. In addition, extinction can also result from the migration of said species from destroyed forests to habitats that are not suitable for them, where they end up dying anyway.
Paragraph 5: Conclusion
In conclusion, taking everything I have talked about, I can’t help but be worried about the future. We have been irresponsible in how we are handling our planet, and the consequences are already evident today. We have global warming causing flooding worldwide, extreme temperatures, and pollution everywhere. If we do not take drastic measures soon, in a couple of decades, the earth will essentially be inhabitable. Some of the easy steps we can take include switching to clean energy to reduce the amount of carbon in the air. Second, governments should implement guidelines to protect natural forests from deforestation. Last but not least, people should be made aware of how our actions, such as clearing trees, will eventually lead to disasters. The same steps taken to educate people about health hazards like STIs, HIV, or cancer should also be taken to protect the environment because the consequences will be much worse.
Díaz-Reviriego, I., Turnhout, E., & Beck, S. (2019). Participation and inclusiveness in the intergovernmental science–policy platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Nature Sustainability, 2(6), 457-464.
Edwards, L. E. (2015). What is the Anthropocene? Eos, 96, 6-7.
Giam, X. (2017). Global biodiversity loss from tropical deforestation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(23), 5775-5777.
Green, E. J., McRae, L., Freeman, R., Harfoot, M. B., Hill, S. L., Baldwin-Cantello, W., & Simonson, W. D. (2020). Below the canopy: global trends in forest vertebrate populations and their drivers. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 287(1928), 20200533.
Mitchard, E. T. (2018). The tropical forest carbon cycle and climate change. Nature, 559(7715), 527-534.
Pearce, F. (2018). Rivers in the sky: how deforestation is affecting global water cycles. Yale Environment, 360.
Tague, C. L., Moritz, M., & Hanan, E. (2019). The changing water cycle: The eco‐hydrologic impacts of forest density reduction in Mediterranean (seasonally dry) regions. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water, 6(4), e1350.
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Using your own words, write a short descriptive essay that defines and explains selected environmental impacts of deforestation. As you write, imagine you are talking to a friend who has no knowledge of this topic. In short, write the way you talk and speak, using a conversational tone. Also, try to alternate short sentences and longer sentences to make your writing more readable.
Be sure to create a title and cite yourself as the author.
Impacts that Deforestation Has on the Environment
Paragraph 1 leads an overview of what you have to say about these topics: disruption of the carbon cycle, disruption of the hydrologic (water) cycle, and the reduction of species diversity.
Paragraph 2 should describe how deforestation disrupts the carbon cycle.
Paragraph 3, how deforestation disrupts the hydrologic (water) cycle.
Paragraph 4 explains how deforestation is related to declining species diversity.
Paragraph 5, conclusion, describe how you feel about the three effects discussed and what we might do about it.
Use a direct quote from your reading to support your ideas. Include a citation, a reference page, and a direct quote in quotation marks; also, be sure to include a citation for any material you paraphrase