You have no doubt heard environmentalists say on multiple occasions that humans are utterly destroying the world’s forested areas, a terrible development that will dramatically increase the catastrophic effects of global warming and devastate the earth as we know it.
That assertion was put forward recently in a BBC report on the prospects of survival for Koala Bears in Australia, in which Deborah Tabart of the Australian Koala Foundation declared that “85 percent of the world’s forests are now gone.”
That shocking statistic likely came from a 2014 article by GreenActionNews, which asserted that 80 percent of the world’s forested areas had been destroyed, largely through human activity such as deforestation — a problem that would likely get worse unless regulations to restrict the rate of deforestation were implemented around the globe.
But a recent article in HumanProgress took great issue with the assertion that the world’s forested areas are disappearing, and offered up facts to dispute the claim.
For starters, roughly 4 billion hectares of forested areas exist around the globe, which in its entirety encompasses approximately 14.8 billion hectares of land, both above and beneath the earth’s oceans and seas.
If 4 billion hectares of forest were to remain after 80 percent of forests had been destroyed, that would mean 135 percent of the earth would have been covered by forests, and some 5.2 billion hectares of forest would have been removed from the oceans and seas.
Obviously those numbers don’t add up. The world’s plethora of deserts, frozen tundra, grasslands and swamps obviously disprove the notion that the entirety of the earth’s land surface was once covered by forests.
Furthermore, the GreenActionNews piece suggests the world’s remaining intact forest areas were “unevenly distributed,” as the five most forest-rich nations were Brazil, Canada, China, Russia and the United States. Though obviously not a precise correlation, it shouldn’t be surprising that a significant portion of the world’s forests are found in five of the world’s largest nations by landmass.
On top of that, a 2015 assessment of global forest resources by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization found that roughly 31 percent of the world’s landmass was covered in forests. And while the world was losing forested areas, the rate by which they were disappearing had dropped by more than half since the 1990s.
Indeed, for every 7.6 million hectares of forest lost worldwide per year, some 4.3 million hectares of forest were added, meaning the globe was losing its forested areas by a rate of only 0.08 percent per year, hardly as dramatic as environmentalists would have you believe.
Making matters worse for the leftist environmentalists, the areas where afforestation or reforestation were occurring were happening in economically developed regions of the world. In fact, regions that have embraced forms of capitalist economic systems, like North America and Europe, have actually increased their forested areas in recent decades, in some places to more than pre-industrialization levels.
This phenomenon is also occurring in many still developing regions and has come to be known as the “Environmental Kuznets curve,” which posits that economic development will initially lead to environmental degradation, but as economies grow and improve that degradation will eventually reverse course.
That usually occurs around the same time a nation reaches approximately $4,500 GDP per capita, which has been dubbed the “forest transition” point, which is when forested areas begin to increase instead of shrink. The phenomenon also appears to apply to a nation’s biodiversity as well, such that animal species initially feared as nearing extinction will tend to stabilize their populations and begin to bounce back in more economically developed regions.
Thus, it would appear that — contrary to the assertions of radical environmentalists — a rapidly developing economy and urbanization are actually good overall for the environment, as rich nations can afford to spend money on environmental protection policies and more people living in cities means more land outside those cities can be returned to its original state of nature.
Bear in mind that radical environmentalism is, at its core, just an offshoot of Marxism and the marxist obsession with inequality would rather see all humankind be equally miserable in poverty than see some people rise farther and faster than others through capitalism.
While it is true that forest areas are declining in some regions of the world, they are actually being replaced and growing in others, typically those that have adopted a form of capitalism as their economic model.
Sorry environmentalists, but that is a form of inequality that we can manage to live with.
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