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Drought in Brazil highlights regional impacts of deforestation

The Climate News Network produced an article this week describing how the recent unprecedented drought in Brazil has highlighted the importance of the Amazon rainforest in the regional water budget.  The rainforest is being chopped down in many areas, in many cases to grow soybeans and other agricultural crops as well as for lumber.  Ironically, the removal of the forests may be reducing rainfall to the area by removing the ability of the trees to pump humidity into the atmosphere.  Antonio Nobre, one of Brazil’s leading climate scientists, explains it this way:

“Destroying the Amazon to advance the agricultural frontier is like shooting yourself in the foot. The Amazon is a gigantic hydrological pump that brings the humidity of the Atlantic Ocean into the continent and guarantees the irrigation of the region.”

“Of course, we need agriculture,” he said. “But without trees there would be no water, and without water there is no food.

“A tonne of soy takes several tonnes of water to produce. When we export soy we are exporting fresh water to countries that don’t have this rain and can’t produce. It is the same with cotton, with ethanol. Water is the main agricultural input. If it weren’t, the Sahara would be green, because it has extremely fertile soil.”

You can read the full article here.