Carbon emissions in the Amazon in 2019 and 2020 more than doubled compared to the average of the prior eight years, according to a new study.

Source: Global News/YouTube

The findings have been submitted for publication but have not been independently reviewed yet. However, the researchers found that deforestation for agriculture and fires were the main drivers of the emission increase. The authors also cite a lack of law enforcement in recent years has encouraged people to clear the forest without penalty.

The Amazon is the largest tropical forest on Earth and plays a huge role in maintaining a healthy planet. The Amazon is often referred to as the lungs of the planet and is responsible for sequestering large amounts of carbon in trees and soil. However, in recent years, the forest has been largely deforested due to animal agriculture and damaging crops like palm oil and soy.

The researchers used small planes to collect hundreds of air samples from different parts of the forest over the last ten years. In the year 2019, carbon emissions increased by 89 percent compared to the annual average emissions between 2010 and 2018. Even worse, one year later, in 2020, they found that was an increase of 122 percent. Researchers say that a reason for this ride is the decline in the enforcement of the law by local agencies for illegal forest clearing. They found that fines for illegal deforestation fell by 89 percent in 2020.

Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, has been blamed for much of the deterioration of the beautiful forest. Since he came into office in 2019, he has canceled fines and penalties for deforestation and has even pushed for the expansion of aggressive and harmful agriculture in the country.

“We hypothesize that the consequences of the collapse in enforcement led to increases in deforestation, biomass burning and degradation producing net carbon losses and enhancing drying and warming of forest regions,” the study says.

Another recent study found that replacing just 20 percent of the world’s beef consumption with microbial protein alternatives could cut deforestation in half over the next three decades. Nearly 83 percent of farmland is now used for livestock and for crops to feed them. However, only 18 percent of the calories that are consumed by humans are from meat and dairy products.

Meat consumption leading to habitat exploitation is one of the main drivers of amazon deforestation. Shifting to a more plant-based diet and curbing meat consumption can tremendously help the planet, The United Nation recently released a report warning countries about the dangers of climate change and has urged people to eat more plant-based as a way to curb it. We highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest meatless, plant-based/vega,n and allergy-friendly recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.

To learn more about the fires and deforestation in the Amazon, please see The Amazon Rainforest is Burning at Alarming Rates, 300 Football Fields Worth of Flames Caused by Our Snacks, and Beef Production is Killing the Amazon Rainforest.

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