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Climate One

Monday, October 14 at 2:00 pm

Scorched Earth: Culture And Climate Under Siege

This year has been one of record wildfires. From the Amazon to the Congo to California, forests are being decimated. And along with them, the stability of our climate.

But if a tree falls in the Amazon, will we hear it? Why should we care about trees that burn halfway across the world?

One reason is that global deforestation carries major implications for the climate: trees are among our most effective weapons against carbon emissions. The Amazon alone is responsible for removing five percent of the world’s forty billion tons of CO2 emissions from the air each year. When forests burn, carbon storage is lost, along with biodiversity, indigenous culture, and more.

But fire isn’t the only threat to our planet’s forests. Agribusiness, ranching, mining and global consumerism are just some of the dangers our trees face. And one of the leading culprits can most likely be found in your kitchen cabinets.

“Palm oil makes up probably somewhere between three and ten percent of pretty much every consumer good products that you're going to buy at the grocery store,” says Tara O’Shea of satellite imaging company Planet. “It is a leading driver of deforestation, especially in Southeast Asia, but increasingly in Africa.”

“We are at this stage because we've treated the earth like a resource to be exploited for profit,” says says Paul Paz y Miño of Amazon Watch. 

“The forest is alive,” he continues. “If we don't treat it as a commodity, if we treat as a living thing like with another person essentially, then it elevates the level of respect that we have for it.”

Corey Brinkema
President, Forest Stewardship Council U.S.

Tara O’Shea
Director of Forest Programs, Planet

Paul Paz y Miño
Associate Director, Amazon Watch

To listen to the audio of “Scorched Earth: Culture And Climate Under Siege” on Climate One online, please click HERE.