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Reducing Tropic Deforestation Could Cut World Emissions

Jun 06, 2014 03:43 PM EDT

Reducing deforestation rates in the tropics could significantly cut the world's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, a new study suggests.

General consensus among scientists appears to be that man-made greenhouse gas emissions - including high levels of CO2 - are exacerbating climate change, harming the atmosphere and leading to significant warming in some parts of the world.

Several leading nations have already acknowledged the threat these gases pose, with both China and the United States already setting hard caps on their greenhouse gas emissions, especially the CO2 by-products of coal burning power plants.

Recent reports have also indicated that harmful CO2 levels in the Northern Hemisphere have just reached record-breaking levels, worrying experts even more.

However, in the wake of all this concern, some researchers are arguing that the world is ignoring a simple solution. Trees, say researchers from the University of Edinburgh, could be our salvation.

According to a study published in the journal Global Change Biology, researchers have successfully calculated the amount of carbon absorbed by the world's tropical forests and the amounts of greenhouse gas emissions created by loss of trees, as a result of human activity.

According to these scientists, tropical forests absorb nearly two billion metric tons of CO2 each year - that's about one fifth of the world's current carbon emissions.

This alone, the researchers argue, is more than enough reason to halt all tropical deforestation.

"If we limit human activity in the tropical forests of the world, this could play a valuable role in helping to curb the rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere," author John Grace said in a statement. "Preventing further losses of carbon from our tropical forests must remain a high priority."

What's more, the analysis also found that decaying tree stumps and dead plants are actually contributing to current CO2 levels as temperatures rise.

The study was published in Global Change Biology on June 6.

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