Report from 2050: The Shrinking Amazon

40% of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed

[Note: This was originally published on 13.7 Billion Years as part of "Reports from 2050," a series of imagined reports from the year 2050, based on current news, recent discoveries and scientific predictions. To see what's real and what's not, click on the links within the text.]

by Reynard Loki, 13.7 Billion Years

JANUARY 14, 2050 (Lima, Peru) -- Over four decades ago, in 2006, the journal Nature published "Modelling conservation in the Amazon basin," a joint study by researchers from Brazil and the United States.

"By 2050, current trends in agricultural expansion will eliminate a total of 40% of Amazon forests, including at least two-thirds of the forest cover of six major watersheds and 12 ecoregions, releasing 32 plus/minus 8 Pg of carbon to the atmosphere, according to the study, which was led by Britaldo Silveira Soares-Filho of the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

The researchers also noted that "expansion of the cattle and soy industries in the Amazon basin has increased deforestation rates," predicting that "one-quarter of the 382 mammalian species examined will lose more than 40% of the forest within their Amazon ranges."

Unfortunately, they were right.

Due to the extensive deforestation, "an extra 30 billion tons of carbon have been added to the atmosphere," notes "Although the clean energy sources...have offset this, it can't save the many thousands of species of plant and animal life which depend on the rainforest for survival. A huge amount of biodiversity [has been] lost...Desperate efforts are [being] made by non-profit organisations to obtain DNA samples, in the hope of resurrecting these species at some point in the future."

"For the past half century, it has been 'business-as-usual' in regard to logging and human development," said Professor Isabel Leme of the Lima-based non-profit conservation group Amazonas, in an email.

"So if you've ever wanted to see the Amazon rainforest, you better book your eco-tour soon, because at the rate we're going, it is on target to becoming a vast and lifeless desert."

image: Soares-Filhos et. al. Nature 2006 (source:

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