NYU Debate

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DEFORESTATION ANSWERS NYU 2011
Deforestation Won’t Happen: 2-5 Turn – Deforestation Good – Economy/Food: 6 Turn – Deforestation Good – Economics: 7 Turn – Deforestation Causes Global Cooling: 8 AT – Deforestation Causes Flooding: 10-11 AT – Deforestation - Exaggerated: 12 AT – Deforestation - Biodiversity Loss: 13-14

and that most of the land around the region was already cleared before Cargill arrived on the scene Small farmers are now caught between the law and making their farms profitable. “Unlikely Allies Battle Deforestation in the Amazon”. The NGO's call us criminals. But under the long-standing 80:20 rule. (http://www. You know. Deforestation is being solved now Julie McCarthy.org/templatesstory/story php?storyId=11375220) Guerrero. and the nations of Europe are being regreened rapidly. The rain forests are about to disappear. Michael Lind." says Johnson. We worked our whole lives honestly. Foreign Correspondent South America. as former farmland returns to forest. or pay a large chunk to the government which would then set aside a legal reserve elsewhere.” And that's ultimately what happened. But the company argues that only a fraction of the soy it transports comes from Santarem.NYU Debate 2 A2: Deforestation (1/4) There’s no threat to rainforests.an iconic environmental cause -." But as the New York Times reported in 2009. Peabody recipient for coverage of Gulf War. Cargill agreed to join a two-year moratorium on the purchase of any soy grown on newly deforested areas. Meanwhile. From there the company ships hundreds of thousands of tons of soy down the Amazon to markets overseas.npr. So Long. Cargill’s Lori Johnson says the company pushed to make the moratorium industry-wide "so that everyone who buys soy is taking the same stance. "new 'secondary' forests are emerging in Latin America. cultivating about half the land.and that humanity was threatened as atmospheric oxygen levels correspondingly declined? The World Wildlife Fund's Thomas Lovejoy in 1980 predicted 50 percent deforestation in Latin America by 2000. Asia and other tropical regions at such a fast pace that the trend has set off a serious debate about whether saving primeval rain forest -. all year round. (Policy director of the New America Foundation's Economic Growth Program). he says. when it seemed the Amazon rain forest wasn't long for this world -." For every acre of rain forest chopped down annually. according to one estimate. Northern Hemisphere countries like the United States." Holzbach says. And Al Gore famously claimed in Earth in the Balance that rain forests "are disappearing from the face of the earth at the rate of one and a half acres a second. Canada. one of the world's largest privately held companies. thanks to advanced agricultural technology that permits more food to be grown on fewer acres. and doing something. more than 50 acres are growing back on previously ravaged tropical land. which is.com/articles/2011/02/22/so_long_chicken_little?page=full 4. The action effectively removes the incentive for soy farmers to cut down trees. which has tracked deforestation around Santarem. he is only entitled to grow on a fifth of the property. every day. confronting the problem. The Nature Conservancy's man in the field." he says. Many face the prospect of selling their land and leaving. www.” In the last two years Brazil's government says that the rate at which trees are being destroyed has slowed in the Amazon. "[the farmers] will be affected by this reaction of the market. The Nature Conservancy's Guerrero credits groups like Greenpeace and other conservationists who are on the frontlines in the struggle to save the rainforest."Guerrero expects to see more partnerships like the one . if you lose the market. says Cargill is persuading farmers that they have a choice: get legal or go broke. "And one of the interesting things that came out of those discussions is that it has brought together this kind of multi-stakeholder group. Cargill took an unprecedented step. At the urging of Greenpeace. He says the Amazon is increasingly being pulled into a global market that demands environmentally friendly products. Analysts credit declining soy prices which have led to a disincentive to plant. But we don't want to in 2003. Chicken Little. "And we came here after the forest had been cut down. Greenpeace accused Cargill. Remember the 1980s. “We feel oppressed. they fought bitterly over the company's giant port terminal in Santarem. July 9 2007. was the foreign editor for Europe as well as Africa. or about 50 hectres. This is yet another case of exaggeration in defense of a good cause. “Because we are doing some work here to put some limits: addressing the problem. work outside of the law. night and day.may be less urgent than once thought." Guerrero says.foreignpolicy. the argument that Cargill is using. Farmer Viteu Holzbach plants soy on 130 of his 260 hectres. Mar/Apr ’11.” If the market decides not to buy anymore soy from the Amazon. you lose everything. He must either return a big chunk of his farm to its natural state. and just took advantage of what we found. of being indirectly complicit in deforestation of the area. She served as the Senior Washington Editor during the Persian Gulf War. As one of the biggest soy traders in Brazil. Foreign Policy.” But Not Without a Fight Before Greenpeace and Cargill started cooperating with each other.

NYU Debate 3 between the Nature Conservancy and Cargill multiply as the battle continues over how to balance conservation in the Amazon with economic growth. .

a new study claims. he says. the study adds.5 million acres (1 million hectares) of forest between 2000 and 2005. why not Brazil and Indonesia?" Kauppi said. producing an average annual 1. Developing nations are expanding their forests National Geographic News.com/news/2006/11/061113-forests. the authors say. November 13 2006. but tree density has risen. raising hopes that an end to deforestation may be in sight. In the U.S. from Rockefeller University in New York City. This approach takes into account tree density as well as overall tree cover to reveal a country's total forest resources.nationalgeographic. Study Suggests”. The study notes. admits that the study does not distinguish between planted. Ohio. “World’s Forests Rebounding . China and the U.nationalgeographic. The study suggests that deforestation is not as drastic as it once was and that forests are recovering in many countries.6 percent increase in forest biomass. Indonesia has recorded a 6 percent annual loss in forest biomass between 1990 and 2005. "Earth has suffered an epidemic of deforestation. Study Suggests”. tree cover is shown to be virtually unchanged since World War II. In Japan.NYU Debate 4 A2: Deforestation (2/4) Deforestation is declining National Geographic News. The researchers say that over the past 15 years the amount of woodland has increased in 22 of the world's 50 most forested nations. Pennsylvania. Similar factors may have helped in India. and Illinois have expanded by half since the 19th century. particularly in developing nations. the team says. while tree cover has spread fastest in China." said co-researcher Jesse Ausubel.html) Forests are branching out across the planet anew. where forest cover was found to have increased since 1990. Vietnam. much of the recorded increase involves both natural regeneration and the effects of reforestation programs. Finland. Kauppi says. and Spain. for example. The authors say factors behind reforestation in North America and Europe range from increased conservation and farming productivity to a decline in newsprint demand following the rise of electronic media. Increased human migration from rural to urban areas and higher agricultural yields may also have aided regeneration.com/news/2006/11/061113-forests. November 13 2006. where huge areas of tropical forest are still being cleared. Asia as a whole is shown to have gained 2. for instance.. . Whether the transition from deforestation to forest expansion becomes a truly global phenomenon will depend largely on Brazil and Indonesia. Lead author Pekka Kauppi of the University of Helsinki. (http://news. However.html) This encouraging picture of global forest growth comes from an international research team that studied data from a 2005 forest-resources assessment by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).S. homogenous tree stands and biologically richer old-growth forests. Reforestation efforts in China have contributed to a 116-million-acre (47-million-hectare) increase in forest area since the 1970s. forests in Massachusetts. for instance. The team advocates "a more sophisticated approach" to measuring forest cover. "Now humans may help spread an epidemic of forest restoration. have achieved the greatest overall forest expansion. The team says forest trends in these and other developing countries may be mirroring those seen in the past in industrialized Western nations. "But if China and India can do it. the team says." Ausubel said the trend identified in the study could "stop the styling of a skinhead Earth" and lead to a 10 percent increase in global forest cover—an area the size of India—by 2050. that tropical forest in El Salvador expanded more than 20 percent between 1992 and 2001. (http://news. “World’s Forests Rebounding .

nationalgeographic." said Stephan Schwartzman. conservationists say. Nepstad and others argue that while establishing parks in inaccessible regions is important. "Despite often being under staggering pressures.NYU Debate 5 A2: Deforestation (3/4) Indigenous people are preventing deforestation National Geographic News. and they are also willing to use force to defend their lands. that alone doesn't slow deforestation where it most commonly occurs: along the forest's retreating edge. “Indigenous Lands Help Protect Amazon Forests." Laurance said. an anthropologist with New Yorkbased nonprofit Environmental Defense and a co-author of the study. February 28 2006. "Where indigenous land in the Amazon starts is where the frontier stops. efforts have focused largely on protecting isolated areas with little human presence. Study Finds” (http://news. but I'd far rather have these kinds of impacts than have lands with little or no forest at all. But in the states of Pará and Mato Grosso. the study finds. that march of destruction has been halted by a vast complex of indigenous lands occupied by the Kayapo and Xingu peoples.com/news/2006/02/0228_060228_amazon. who led the study.000 acres (10. . Brazil." said William Laurance. The front line of deforestation in the Amazon has been moving into the forest from the south and east.nationalgeographic. Here. In some parts of the Amazon. Study Finds” (http://news. In fact. But these threats are less severe in many indigenous territories. leaving soybean fields and pastureland in its wake. February 28 2006.html) The study confirms new thinking about conservation priorities in the Amazon." said Daniel Nepstad of the Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth.100 hectares) were included in the analysis. study findings confirm what is visible to the naked eye from satellite maps.html) Reserve areas established for Indian peoples in Brazil (map) are as effective as uninhabited nature parks in preventing burning and clear-cutting. where tribal groups guard against outside intrusions. "Logging and hunting aren't trivial. and illegal hunting have caused extensive damage. Massachusetts. The scientists used satellite data taken from 1997 to 2000 to compare rates of fire and deforestation inside and outside the boundaries of different reserve types. "Many indigenous groups are very well organized. the researchers report that reserves of all types are providing significant Amazon forest protection.com/news/2006/02/0228_060228_amazon. gold mining. it is the proximity of many indigenous lands to Brazil's advancing agricultural frontier that makes them so important. selective logging. the indigenous lands are doing a pretty good job of protecting the Amazon. The protective barrier created by these tribal lands is enormous—two and half times larger than the country of Costa Rica. Indigenous lands are preventing deforestation in the Amazon National Geographic News. In the February issue of the journal Conservation Biology. “Indigenous Lands Help Protect Amazon Forests. but tribal lands may be especially important to preventing region-wide deforestation. In the past. Only protected areas larger than 25. An international team of researchers tested a longstanding assumption: that land in uninhabited parks is better protected than that in reserves with human populations. The study did not examine how protected areas with human populations—including indigenous lands and national forests—maintain aspects of environmental health other than standing forest. a staff scientist with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Manaus.

Amazon deforestation slowed a bit in 2005. we simply cannot live without the use of lumber. new reserves and improved enforcement also played a role. "What we're seeing now is that by keeping the people there.com/news/2006/02/0228_060228_amazon. and the casual extinction of indigenous fauna and flora." Nepstad said. "The alliance between conservation and indigenous groups has now extended to 'smallholder' organizations. or paper and other wood by-products. “Benefits of Deforestation” March 2007.800 square kilometers) of new sustainable-use reserves north of Kayapo lands. it is renewable simply by growing more trees. and alongside other reserves they form a nearly continuous protected zone over 90. The only real trick to balancing it's consumption is to grow more trees to replace the ones taken. Such alliances have helped tribes like the Kayapo gain official recognition of reserve areas and aided them in enforcing bans on forest clearing and other illegal activities. but also extends to the people who "clean up" after them. says a number of groups share a common interest in maintaining the forest. “Indigenous Lands Help Protect Amazon Forests." After proceeding at a record rate from 2002 to 2004. "They are. food production. wood is one of the most basic natural resources. Study Finds” (http://news. On a similarly related note. there are those who work in processing plants to make glue from wood sap. With additional new reserves planned over the coming years. "There are some who still argue that you need to put up fences and keep people out to protect the forest. referring to groups of small-scale farmers and forest users whose advocacy helped lead to the new protected areas.nationalgeographic. keep in mind that a lot of jobs revolve around the use of lumber. indigenous tribes. For every patch of forest cut down. M.NYU Debate 6 A2: Deforestation (4/4) Deforestation is declining in the Amazon National Geographic News. process pulp into paper. This is another benefit of deforestation. the new study underscores the value of strategic alliances among conservationists.000 square miles (233.D. the Amazon's new conservationists. you can actually enhance protection. These reserves create a formidable new barrier to frontier expansion. http://ezinearticles. more than 40 percent of the Brazilian Amazon forest will have some protected status." Lefebvre said. Yet people don't seem to realize that there are actually quite a few benefits of deforestation.com. February 28 2006. While falling prices of commodities found in the region are thought to be partly responsible.html) By demonstrating such protection. Turn – Deforestation Good – Economy/Food Deforestation is key to industry. and unlike steel and stone. These job opportunities are more than simply a humanitarian concept. Like steel and stone. One of the easiest benefits of deforestation to spot are the economic ones. depletion of natural resources. Whether it's raw lumber used for making tables and houses. and others. Wood cutters aside. usually the things that spring to mind are negative thoughts brought on mostly by media hypes and environmentalist drives.000 square miles (51." Nepstad said. Study co-author Paul Lefebvre. it opens more job opportunities for people who would otherwise be unemployed. People think about global warming.com/? Benefits-of-Deforestation&id=504455) Whenever people talk about deforestation. Last year the Brazilian government created nearly 20. a research associate at the Woods Hole Research Center. Lumber products are one of the most staple constructive materials in human society. is an expert author at ezinearticles. in one respect. This benefit of deforestation not only covers the people who cut down trees and process them. ..000 square kilometers). and other rural land users. society at large would suffer if all of the people working in the wood industry were to suddenly find themselves jobless. housing and economic growth Fiset 7 (Nathalie Fiset.

With to be unsustainable slash-and-burn cultivation of annual crops initially. and this is yet another benefit of deforestation. the good outweighs the bad. the cleared areas are places which provide a lot of potential for growth. The act of deforestation may not be entirely necessary to get at these deposits sometimes.ipea. Then smallscale farmers should be granted property rights and be allowed to use the land as they find optimal. As stated above. of course. Given our burgeoning population growth.000/hectare. At this rate the total economic value of a standing rain forest is estimated at roughly $l8.pdf) This paper has attempted to collect the best available evidence on the total economic value of standing Amazonian rain forest. you can see that more often than not. This is likely $24. These natural resources would otherwise lay dormant and untapped unless people access them. January 1997 www. Or. Loggers should first be allowed to extract the commercially valuable timber from the virgin forest. but as the area develops and population densities and land prices increase. the soil in a forest is much richer than that of regular farm lands because of the wide variety of life it supports. Then. Some places with heavy forests are home to iron ore. and the act of deforestation to clear a place for farm land provides a much needed additional food source for man. or factories to produce clothing and other essential items. but that is due to irresponsible use of the resources and other benefits provided.br/pub/td/td0455. Buildings which can house offices for work. then jobs are also provided for those people who do the seeding after a patch of forest is stripped. another benefit of deforestation to consider is the access it provides to other natural resources that may lay within the forest's land area. our duty is not to "hold back" and stop cutting trees. Thinking about it. there will be a natural intensification in the use of land and the area will eventually be covered with sustainable perennial crops. It was shown that a sequence of land uses provides the optimal development strategy. Lastly. Department of Economics University of Aarhus. Andersen. “A CostBenefit Analysis of Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon” Rio de Janeiro. The number of people employed by such a construction project are many and varied. arable land is valuable.000/hectare (in 1990 US$). if the city/government mandates replanting trees to replace the lost ones. As people living on the planet. additional living areas made on cleared forest land is another benefit of deforestation. The low discount rate is most compatible with the rate a global social planner would adopt. or even research facilities for things like new medical or technological advances can be placed in these deforested areas. and buildings. there is the fact that these cleared areas may be razed for urban renewal. Turn – Deforestation Good – Economics The economic benefits of deforestation outweigh the costs Andersen 97 (Lykke E. Professor. This new land area grants a much needed place to grow a food supply to deal with the planet's steadily expanding population of humanity. The planet's environment may indeed suffer from the effects of deforestation. Demmark. not the deforestation itself. More often than not. These places can be converted into more than just housing areas. This sequence of land uses yields an estimated net present agricultural value of roughly spill-over effects to the urban sector the total net present value of agricultural land increases to about $l20. and even oil deposits which can be used for man's needs. given all of the benefits of deforestation outlined above.000/hectare. It is to use what we glean from the Earth responsibly and wisely for humanity and the planet's benefit.NYU Debate 7 arable land becomes available for farmers. The value of a standing forest was compared with estimares of the net present value of different agricultural land uses. houses.gov. or can be used as an area to place urban living sites like apartments. the combination of opening up a new mine or oil well when taken with extra living spaces or farm lands for food makes a lot of sense. but coupled with the advantages given above. So. Estimates were calculated for both a low discount rate of 2% and a higher discount rate of 6%. mineral. The potential benefits of deforestation thus .

This value is close to the corresponding −0.8 K. At the optimal level it will be much higher. on a global-mean basis. Temperate.3 K temperature change of the Global deforestation simulation. Wickett. The global-mean temperature differences relative to the Standard case in year 2100 in the Tropical. Temperate. In the Standard A2 scenario. international transfers in excess of $9. T. The removal of forests in the Global case results in an atmospheric CO2 concentration at year 2100 that is 381 ppmv greater than in the Standard simulation (1.790 PgC carbon is emitted to the atmosphere over the 21st century (Fig.04 K. B. As the level of deforestation increases. and boreal deforestation are. Bala. and forests have lower albedo and absorb more solar radiation than grasses. −0. and Boreal experiments are +0. 110. near-zero temperature change. Phillips. Delire. implying that the combined carbon-cycle and biophysical effects from tropical. Approximately 82% (799 PgC) of this carbon resides in the atmosphere. However. Temperate. 1). 1). respectively. K. Caldeira.7 K. 1).1 K in the year 2100. Turn – Deforestation Causes Global Cooling (2/2) . and 5 ppmv in the Tropical. Thus. and it will eventually pass the value of agricultural land. 271 PgC in Standard) because the higher atmospheric CO2 concentration drives an increased flux of carbon into the oceans. D. “Combined climate and carboncycle effects of large-scale deforestation” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. our dynamic vegetation model allows the forests to expand in the regions that are not deforested (23. http://www. temperate. we focus our analysis on our global-scale deforestation simulation for brevity. Lobell. respectively (Fig. The ocean uptake increases in the Global case (444 vs. at higher latitudes. The external benefits of a standing rain forest amounts to roughly $9. Mirin. with the oceans taking up the remaining 18% (173 PgC).and annualmean temperature in the Global case is cooler by ≈0. the warming carbon-cycle effects of deforestation are overwhelmed by the cooling biophysical effects. and Boreal cases. Fig. Relative to the Standard case. By year 2100. suggesting a near-linear behavior of the large-scale climate system despite the many nonlinear processes represented by the INCCA model. the international comunity has to provide incentives to induce Brazil to preserve the remainder of the forest. The presence of trees in the latitude-band deforestation experiments and the consequent higher CO2 fertilization causes the linear sum of CO2 changes from the Tropical.000/hectare at the current level of deforestation. Despite higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations. and net cooling. but such projects would offer only little to no climate benefits when implemented in temperate regions and would be counterproductive.fcgi?artid=1871823) Atmospheric CO2 content is greater in the Global deforestation experiment by 381 ppmv because of both the release of carbon stored in trees in the early 21st century and the loss of CO2 fertilization of forested ecosystems seen in the Standard simulation (Fig. Thus. net warming. 7 (G. Turn – Deforestation Causes Global Cooling (1/2) Despite increases in CO2. These latitude-band experiments thus suggest that projects in the tropics promoting afforestation are likely to slow down global warming. J. 1. the global costs of deforestation will rise. namely the points associated with approximately 10% deforestation. and A. the global. the atmospheric CO2 concentration is higher by 299. C. and −0. these two estimares of the costs and the benefits of deforestation only represent one point on the cost curve and one point on the benefit curve. M.nih. from a climate-perspective. and Boreal experiments to be lower than that of the Global case by 67 ppmv in year 2100. 1). 2). the terrestrial biosphere in the Global deforestation experiment has 972 Pg less carbon than in the Standard case. deforestation causes global cooling Bala et al. 732 ppmv. Because the linear sum of the temperature response from latitude-band experiments is approximately equal to that of the Global case (Fig. The linear sum is slightly larger because. At that point.pubmedcentral.113 vs. The linear sum of the area-weighted global-mean temperature change over all of the latitude-band experiments is −0.000/hectare will be needed to secure that deforestation in the world largest remaining rain forest will not exceed the globally optimal level.3 K than the Standard case. 26).gov/articlerender.NYU Debate 8 seem to exceed the costs at the current level of deforestation. in the latitude-band experiments.

Caldeira. http://www. the report accuses Asian governments of using deforestation as an excuse to deflect criticism over their poor handling of human settlement in areas unsuitable for habitation. D.and high-latitude afforestation projects for climate mitigation.pubmedcentral. atmosphere. C.htm#bm04) It is commonly believed that forests are necessary to regulate stream flow and reduce runoff. We find that globalscale deforestation has a net cooling influence on Earth's climate. 7 (G. J. Phillips. Instead. Here we present results from several large-scale deforestation experiments performed with a three-dimensional coupled global carbon-cycle and climate model. Lobell. forests tend to be rather extravagant users of water. Deforestation releases CO2 to the atmosphere. challenges the conventional belief that forest loss causes floods. Latitude-specific deforestation experiments indicate that afforestation projects in the tropics would be clearly beneficial in mitigating global-scale warming. and to some extent this is true. and cloud cover also affect climate. and ocean. FAO and CIFOR say that deforestation does have a role in small floods and topsoil erosion by eliminating the buffering and soil anchoring effects of forests. B. in reality.gov/articlerender. Deforestation does not cause flooding CIFOR 5 (Center for International Forestry Research Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations “Forests and floods: Drowning in fiction or thriving on facts?” RAP Publication 2005/03 Forest Perspectives. citing evidence showing that the frequency and extent of major floods has not changed over the last century despite significant reductions in forest cover. “Combined climate and carboncycle effects of large-scale deforestation” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. and A. This should put to rest the belief that extensive reforestation or afforestation will increase .org/docrep/008/ae929e/ae929e04. The study.NYU Debate 9 Deforestation causes net global cooling Bala et al. K. Wickett. Bala.nih. which include changes in land surface albedo. Considerable quantities of rainfall (up to 35 per cent) are commonly intercepted by the canopies of tropical forests and evaporated back into the atmosphere without contributing to soil water reserves. T. Delire. http://www. But. Although these results question the efficacy of mid. Further.com/2005/1012-fao-cifor. M. Mirin. which exerts a warming influence on Earth's climate. Much of the water that does soak into the soil is used by the trees themselves. forests remain environmentally valuable resources for many reasons unrelated to climate. but would be counterproductive if implemented at high latitudes and would offer only marginal benefits in temperate regions. However.html) Deforestation and logging do not increase the risk of major floods according to a new report from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). evapotranspiration.fao. which is contradictory to earlier thinking (FAO 2003).fcgi?artid=1871823) The prevention of deforestation and promotion of afforestation have often been cited as strategies to slow global warming.mongabay. These simulations were performed by using a fully three-dimensional model representing physical and biogeochemical interactions among land. because the warming carbon-cycle effects of deforestation are overwhelmed by the net cooling associated with changes in albedo and evapotranspiration. biophysical effects of deforestation. AT – Deforestation Causes Flooding (1/2) New studies prove that deforestation does not cause flooding Monga Bay News 5 (“Deforestation does not cause flooding says new study FAO/CIFOR news release” http://news.

Runoff and stream-flow patterns will gradually return to original levels if an area is left to revert back to forest. Studies in America (Hewlett and Helvey 1970). France's foreign minister promised aid to reforest the denuded hillsides.Exaggerated There is little scientific information about the extent of deforestation Rothbard and Rucker 97 (David Rothbard and Craig Rucker. Floods in Bangladesh are blamed on forest clearing in the Himalayas. especially large-scale events. which are not responsible for severe flooding in downstream areas. Central America. Just about every time there is a major flood anywhere in the world.asp?idCategory=5&idarticle=214) . During a major rainfall event (like those that result in massive flooding). will normally result in a permanent increase in total water runoff.htm?WBCMODE=PresentationUnpublished "Haiti's deforestation allows flood water to run unchecked. “The rainforest issue: Myths and facts” CFACT Briefing Paper #102. There is not a shred of scientific evidence to suggest that logging or deforestation play significant roles in massive floods. Calder 2000. Instead. Hamilton with King 1983. are: (i) the geomorphology of the area. 2004. “The great flood myth” http://www. And the myth is doing great damage to farmers who need forests to survive.cgiar. Hamilton 1987). however. during Hurricane Mitch in the idea that loggers and small farmers help cause devastating floods is so ingrained inmost people's minds that few would think to question it. and South Africa (Hewlett and Bosch 1984) were amongst some of the first to question the importance of the link between forest conversion and flooding. the forest soil becomes saturated and water no longer filters into the soil but instead runs off along the soil surface.org/site/view_article. small farmers and loggers are held to account. replacing forest cover with other land uses almost always results in increased runoff and stream flow. Indeed. the main factors influencing major flooding given a large rainfall event. The Associated Press ran touching interviews with the elders of the flood-ravaged Haitian town of Mapou about how they had been forced to fell trees to cook their food even though they knew it would eventually bring about their own destruction. It was a predictable response. But the idea is deeply flawed." declared USA Today.org/Publications/Corporate/NewsOnline/NewsOnline36/flood. especially after prolonged periods of preceding rainfall. and (ii) preceding rainfall (Bruijnzeel 1990.NYU Debate 10 the low flows in the dry season (Hamilton and Pearce 1987). Contrary to popular belief. It is correct that on a local scale forests and forest soils are capable of reducing runoff. Converting forest to grasslands. AT – Deforestation Causes Flooding (2/2) No evidence for deforestation causing flooding CIFOR 4 Center for International Forestry Research Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. AT – Deforestation . generally as the result of enhanced infiltration and storage capacities. But this holds true only for small-scale rainfall events. Therefore. 1987.cfact. Kattelmann 1987). and the billions of dollars of damage done. Haiti's prime minister pointed the finger at poor farmers for cutting down trees for fuel and to make charcoal.cifor. loggers took the rap for the thousands who died. In the late 1990s. Studies in the Himalayas indicate that the increase in infiltration capacity of forested lands over non-forested lands is insufficient to influence major downstream flooding events (Gilmour et al. Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow. forests have only a limited influence on major downstream flooding. and for the floods along China's Yangtze river. http://www.

based on rates of tropical deforestation. 745) So what does available evidence show? And where do environmentalists begin to get their numbers? Well U. there is no risk of extinction from deforestation Rothbard and Rucker 97 (David Rothbard and Craig Rucker. “The rainforest issue: Myths and facts” CFACT Briefing Paper #102. relates to a study done by the Food and Agriculture Organization and U. Lanly.] The resulting number was into the widely cited report by the World Resources Institute.. AT – Biodiversity Loss (1/2) Biodiversity claims are exaggerated. Julian Simon. and finally doubled this number to arrive at an estimated guess for global deforestation. What information we do have comes from anecdotal evidence -." (Simon. Rational Readings. p.P.. Furthermore. the evidence shows that current rates of deforestation are quite modest in much of the world's virgin tropical forests. for example those of the Amazon. weather satellite to count the number of fires burning in the Amazon at one time in 1988 [at the height of government-subsidized deforestation]. and therefore they are probably in little danger of wholesale destruction in the foreseeable future. "Information about the tropical moist forests is relatively scant.. Roger Sedjo and Marion Clawson. the view that this is a pervasive phenomenon on a global level is questionable. writing for Resources for the Future.27 percent annually as compared with 2." (Eco-Sanity.S. Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.06 percent annually for logged over secondary forest.N. sweeping statements about rainforest loss and put in big numbers that make it sound catastrophic." (Rational Readings." Further.cfact.90) Sandra Brown. Lanly is Forest Coordinator for the UNEP/FAO Tropical Resources Assessment Project and his study "indicates that [of the roughly 7 million acres worldwide per year] the undisturbed or "virgin" broadleaved closed forests have a far lower rate of deforestation than the total. dug into the available evidence and said.provided by isolated investigations at single times and places -. p. Yet almost half the estimated total comes from a very rough estimate made by a Brazilian scientist who used sensors on a U. He estimated the size of each. are probably grossly exaggerated.746) Sedjo and Clawson also said "While the local effects of rapid deforestation may be severe." it is being "cited and recited without reference to its origins. the evidence does not support the view that either the world or the tropics are experiencing rapid aggregate deforestation. This figure indicates that deforestation pressure on the more pristine and generally more genetically diverse tropical forests is quite low. being only 0. of Illinois and Ariel Lugo.asp?idCategory=5&idarticle=214) Another important fact..S.org/site/view_article. .that helped fuel the alarm over vanishing tropical forests.than from systematic studies conducted over large areas and lengths of time. http://www. However. News and World Report (12/13/93) explains that while the figure of 40 million acres per year "has taken on a life of its own. "these findings are in sharp contrast to the conventional view that the tropical forests are `disappearing at an alarming rate' and suggest that concerns over the imminent loss of some of the most important residences of the world's diverse genetic base.NYU Debate 11 Why these claims are wrong: While some advocates like to make grand. A hard look at the available data supports the view that some regions are experiencing rapid deforestation. [guessing at the number of acres being cleared by each fire then assumed that 40 percent would never return to their forested condition. [and] was cited by Gore and other administration officials last spring in announcing support for the Biodiversity Treaty. professor of forestry at U. p. Environmental Programme by J. according to Sedjo and Clawson.

Scarcity or Abundance." (Simon. quite clearly is that these numbers do matter in one important way. "Biodiversity.[and] in an analysis of bird fauna. pp.' AT – Biodiversity Loss (2/2) Numbers about species loss are exaggerated. forest cover was never less than 10 to 15%. Forest Service's Institute of Tropical Forestry in Puerto Rico also studied available data and "concluded the `dangerous' misinterpretation and exaggeration of the rate of deforestation has become common. in spite of the massive reduction in area and fragmentation of their habitats in the past decades and centuries of intensive human activity.. [it was] concluded that seven bird species (four of them endemic) became extinct after 500 years of human pressure. why do environmentalists persist in using grandiose numbers to express their concerns about species loss? Dr. offered a low projection of 50% deforestation between 1980 and 2000 in Latin America and a high of 67%. “The rainforest issue: Myths and facts” CFACT Briefing Paper #102. why mention any numbers at all? The answer." "On the basis of this and other evidence.and that exotic species enlarged the species pool. or a guardian angel watching over their destiny. "But because of extensive use of coffee shade trees in the coffee region and secondary forests. But they say the numbers do not matter scientifically. Nevertheless. all the authors are ecologists who express concern abut the rate of extinction.could be properly declared as extinct. "60 birds and mammals are known to have become extinct between 1900 and 1950.. the Landsat photos "concluded that 1. Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow. they say. 200-202) So given all of this. Thomas Lovejoy." and not "a single known animal species. `Because of a relatively low percentage of forest clearing and the remarkable capacity of the forest to recover its structure.55 percent of the Brazilian portion of the Amazon has been deforested." p. human activity reduced the area of primary forest by 99%. The conclusion would be the same. They found. they all agree that the rate of known extinctions has been and continues to be very low." But according to Fulbright scholar and ecologist Robert Buschbacher working in Brazil.the threat of turning the Amazon into a wasteland is exaggerated.. If that is so.. Buschbacher says.many species appear to have either an almost miraculous capacity for survival. In the 1980's. http://www. where according to Lugo.. more birds were present on the island (97 species) than were present in pre-Columbian times (60 species). The [Congressional Office of Technology Assessment] OTA 1986 . Julian Simon notes that "biologists with whom I have discussed this material agree that the numbers in question are most uncertain. actual extinctions remain low and don’t threaten human survival Rothbard and Rucker 97 (David Rothbard and Craig Rucker.NYU Debate 12 project leader at the U. they have they power to frighten in a fashion that numbers much smaller would not.. then of the World Wildlife Fund.Secondary forests in Puerto Rico have [also] served as refugia for primary forest tree species as well.org/site/view_article. The source for this was a set of satellite photos taken in 1978 and reported in the Washington Post to show that "as much as one-tenth of the Brazilian Amazon has been razed. the World Conservation Union (IUCN) commissioned a book in 1992 to look into the matter.cfact. Puerto Rico.... if the numbers were different even by several orders of magnitude.asp?idCategory=5&idarticle=214) Another real-world observation that casts doubt on the Wilson theory actually comes from an island.." As for the amount of deforestation in relation to total forest area..." "actual extinctions remain low." (Lugo. According to Simon.66) So what do real-world observations say about the worldwide loss of species? Well in response to questions about species extinction.S.

. the lack of any evidence for mass extinctions causes no hesitation on the part of those environmentalists calling for quick and draconian action.' These frightening numbers meet that test." Thus.NYU Debate 13 document says: `Conveying the importance of biological diversity will require a formulation of the issue in terms that are easily understandable and convincing. I can find no scientific justification for such use of numbers.

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