Turns Out Those Stats About Our Destroying the World's Forests -- Totally Fake


You’ve probably seen the hand-wringing headlines in one form or another: Human civilization is destroying forests, and of course it’s all capitalism’s fault.

There’s even a sanctimonious “meme” making the rounds that paints western existence as life versus wealth. “When the last tree is cut … you will realize that you can’t eat money.”

It isn’t just heavy-handed social media posts that spread this view, however.

“Recently on the BBC, Deborah Tabart from the Australian Koala Foundation noted that ’85 percent of the world’s forests are now gone,'” reported Human Progress.

That’s an alarming claim — 85 percent of forests gone? If you imagine it, you would think the world is a wasteland and we’re all just a generation away from a Mad Max film.

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But is it true? Well, as it turns out … no.

“Luckily this statement is incorrect,” wrote Alexander C. R. Hammond, who investigated the claim for Human Progress. “Moreover, due to afforestation in the developed world, net deforestation has almost ceased.”

Hammond found that despite the claims of obscure left-leaning environmental blogs, most respected sources admit there’s far more forest in the world than critics admit. And advanced countries are helping with forestation, not hurting the cause.

“After searching for evidence to support Tabart’s claim, the closest source I could find is an article from GreenActionNews, which claims that 80 percent of the earth’s forests have been destroyed,” he explained.

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“The problem with that claim is that according to the United Nations, there are 4 billion hectares of forest remaining worldwide. To put that in perspective, the entire world has 14.8 billion hectares of land.”

In other words, the math just doesn’t add up, unless you live in a fantasy world.

“For 80 percent of the forest area to have already been destroyed and for 4 billion hectares to remain, 135 percent of the planet’s surface must have once been covered in forests,” Hammond pointed out.

“GreenActionNews’ claim not only implies that 5.2 billion hectares of deforestation occurred at sea, but that every bit of land on earth was once forested. Ancient deserts, swamps, tundra and grasslands make mockery of that claim.”

In other words, they threw out any sense of reality to make the claim. Definitely sounds like radical liberalism at its finest.

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As Human Progress found when it investigated, many environmental naysayers look only at deforestation, but completely ignore afforestation — that is, the fact that more trees are planted.

“The world’s richest regions, such as North America and Europe, are not only increasing their forest area, they have more forests than they did prior to industrialization,” Hammond explained.

“The United Kingdom, for example, has more than tripled its forest area since 1919. The UK will soon reach forest levels equal to those registered in the Domesday Book, almost a thousand years ago.”

But what about developing countries like India and China? Citing expert author Matt Ridley, Hammond said there is a tipping point of positive forestation and an increased interest in conservation as incomes rise, just as they’re doing in key parts of the world.

“Once nations hit what Ridley dubs the ‘forest transition,’ or approximately $4,500 GDP per capita, forest areas begin to increase,” wrote Hammond. “China, Russia, India, Vietnam and Bangladesh are just some of the nations that have hit this forest transition phase and are experiencing net afforestation.”

The conclusion is actually the complete opposite of what many leftist environmentalists and socialists preach: Capitalist societies and wealth increases advance conservation goals.

“To encourage reforestation and environmental protection, the answer is a simple one — adopt economic policies that encourage rapid development and urbanization,” Human Progress summarized.

“As people grow rich and move to the cities, more money becomes available for environmental protection and more land can be returned to nature.”

Neither modern advances nor capitalism are enemies of the planet. Science is actually on the side of western civilization.

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Benjamin Arie is an independent journalist and writer. He has personally covered everything ranging from local crime to the U.S. president as a reporter in Michigan before focusing on national politics. Ben frequently travels to Latin America and has spent years living in Mexico.