Amazon rainforest tipping point approaches
Credit: CIFOR/Flickr

Amazon rainforest at risk of significant transformation by mid-century, study indicates

The critical balance between human activity and the Earth's natural climate regulators is beginning to tip — and not in a good way.

Andrew Jeong reports for The Washington Post.


In short:

  • A recent study predicts that by 2050, 10% to 47% of the Amazon rainforest could undergo severe ecological changes due to deforestation and climate change, potentially transitioning into savanna grasslands.
  • The Amazon, a critical carbon sink for 65 million years, faces threats from global warming, extreme droughts, and fires, risking the release of stored carbon and accelerating global warming.
  • Researchers emphasize the urgency of maintaining "safe" ecological thresholds, including limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and reducing deforestation to below 10% to avoid catastrophic ecosystem degradation.

Key quote:

"At the end of this process, our planet will reorganize itself, find a new equilibrium... humans and other species will have to readapt to very unpleasant conditions."

— Bernardo M. Flores, lead author of the study.

Why this matters:

The Amazon's potential collapse into a degraded ecosystem not only threatens biodiversity and Indigenous communities but also diminishes its role in carbon sequestration, exacerbating global warming. The planet’s largest ecosystems could collapse faster than we thought.

climate change plastic
Credit: UNEP

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