An unpublished study that was shared with BBC’s Newsnight has found that 20% of the Amazon rainforest is now emitting more carbon dioxide than it absorbs. A decades-long study found that due to deforestation, about 20% of the Amazon is now contributing to carbon in the atmosphere.

The Amazon has been known for many years as a “carbon sink,” meaning trees absorb carbon from the atmosphere. But new data shows how much global change and deforestation are affecting that notion.

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The research by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) measures levels of carbon dioxide over different parts of the Amazon. Their research found that the part of the forest that is heavily deforested has lost its capacity to absorb carbon.

Professor Luciana Gatti, a researcher with INPE, told Newsnight, “Each year is worse. We observed that this area in the south-east is an important source of carbon. And it doesn’t matter whether it is a wet year or a dry year. 2017-18 was a wet year, but it didn’t make any difference.” Carlos Nobre, Professor Gatti’s co-author said the findings suggest that in 30 half of the Amazon could become the savanna. He called the findings “very worrying” and “a major tipping point.”

The Amazon “tipping point,” for scientists is the point where the forest starts emitting more carbon than it absorbs. The scientists urge that we must stop deforestation to preserve the Amazon we know today. But Nobre warns it might be too late, ” In our calculations, if we exceed that 20-25% of deforestation, and global warming continues unabated with high emission scenarios, then the tipping point would be reached. Today we are at about 17%.”

Watch the Newsnight interview below:

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Sign this petition to urge the Brazilian government to end deforestation:

Read more One Green Planet news about the amazon, including the Pope’s plea to help the amazon, including why it’s important to stop deforestation, how companies are exploiting the area, and indigenous tribes’ visit to Europe to discuss the situation.

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