Every hour, we’re losing the equivalent of a thousand football fields of forests. We're also losing the animals that depend on these forests for their survival—including the fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers left on the planet as well as the critically endangered jaguar, orangutan and Bornean elephant.
Why are so many of these vitally important tropical forests and the wildlife they support being burned to the ground or otherwise destroyed? So some of the world’s largest agricultural commodities companies can trade and sell soybeans, beef cattle and palm oil, much of it for U.S. consumption. That’s a terrible and tragic trade-off.
Tropical forests also play a critical role in stabilizing our climate.
Tropical forests work like the planet’s lungs, breathing in carbon dioxide and breathing out oxygen, reducing global warming and cleaning the air.
Cutting down these forests has the opposite effect. The leveled forest stops taking in carbon dioxide. When forests are burned, as often happens in tropical areas to “clear” the land, they release back into the atmosphere the carbon they've taken in over many years.
Scientists estimate that razing forests to make way for crops or cattle accounts for 10-15 percent of the pollution that's warming the planet and changing the climate.
If we want to save endangered species and slow global warming, we must stop burning and cutting down tropical forests.