The Amazon rainforest could become a new ecosystem with climate change

What have these clever Chinese climate pranks been up to lately? Well, according to people who study their activities closely, they’ve been busy turning the Amazon rainforest into savannahs and potentially obscuring Utah. From The New York Times:

The scientists said their research had not determined when this threshold, which they described as a tipping point, might be reached. “But it’s worth remembering that if we get to this tipping point, that we commit to losing the Amazon rainforest, then we’re getting a meaningful payback on global climate change,” said one of the scientists, Tim Lenton, Director of Global Systems. Institute of the University of Exeter in England. The loss of rainforest could release up to 90 billion tonnes of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, equivalent to several years of global emissions. This would make it more difficult to limit global warming.

And in this country, we lose Lake Powell. From CNN:

The United States Bureau of Reclamation told CNN it currently forecasts Lake Powell water levels to reach a significant rise of 3,525 feet above sea level between March 10 and 16. for the tank, under which the situation becomes dire. As of Thursday, Lake Powell had fallen to just over 3,526 feet above sea level, just over 24% of its capacity and less than two feet from the critical level.

And it’s not just about losing a nice body of water. Lake Powell is a big part of creating states that would normally be semi-deserts suitable for human habitation.

Falling Lake Powell water levels threaten Glen Canyon Dam’s ability to generate hydroelectricity, as do Lake Mead and Hoover Dam. The Glen Canyon Dam provides power to many states, including Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Nebraska. The 3,525ft target is crucial as it allows for a 35ft buffer zone for emergency response to prevent Lake Powell from dropping below the minimum pool elevation of 3,490ft above from sea level, the lowest at which the Glen Canyon Dam is capable of generating hydroelectricity.

The water managers on site improvise like crazy. The problem is that, given the success of the Chinese pranks, they may be running to catch a train that has long left the station.

If future projections show that monthly discharges are not enough to protect Lake Powell, the Bureau of Reclamation will have to consider other avenues. For now, the agency and the upper basin states continue to work on a drought response operations plan, which they expect to complete in April. But given how quickly the planet is warming, Mankin worries about the potential recovery process from the consequences: “So what? Are we getting back to normal operations?” he said. “I feel a little nervous about the climate changing, but our water management is not.”

Back in the rainforest, the problems become just as acute. A historic drought has hit land already damaged by clear-cutting and other human activities. And, therefore, there’s a real possibility that the rainforest will transform into another type of ecosystem entirely, and one that won’t be able to do the massive job that the rainforest does to keep the Earth habitable.

“You can imagine that as the Amazon dries up, you start to see that resilience being lost faster and faster,” Dr Boulton said. Forests could then decline and die relatively quickly and become more savannah-like, with grasses and far fewer trees. Not only would the loss of forest trees add the carbon stored in their tissues to the atmosphere, but savannas would also absorb far less carbon than the large broadleaf trees they replaced. The savannah habitat would also harbor far fewer species. Dr Nobre said the research shows that the Amazon “is at the edge of this cliff, this shift to a different ecosystem”. And if that were to happen, he added, “it would be the new ecosystem for hundreds of years, maybe thousands of years.”

With everything going on, what better time could there be for the country to be subjected to a massive and opportunistic barrage of propaganda from the fossil fuel companies and the politicians they hire out? They watched the carnage in Ukraine and, with predatory instinct, jumped at the chance. They can applaud the president’s decision on Wednesday to ban the import of Russian oil, yet quietly toast another opportunity to push for drilling and inflate prices. Shell can cease operations in Russia and continue to stare avidly at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Hell, there’s even a push to revive the Keystone XL pipeline, the funnel of death across the continent, and the conservative trinket that died the death it long deserved when the White House changed. of hands. (Of course, Canadian politicians who are coated in tar sands oil also fully agree.) White House press secretary Jen Psaki found herself harangued at a recent briefing with questions loaded on the subject.

The reasons for ensuring that the project remains truly, truly dead remain unchanged. It would still carry the dirtiest fossil fuel in the world. It will inevitably leak, probably near major water sources. The owners of the pipeline still cannot be trusted as far as you can throw a length of pipe. Oil would always go to the world. And Lake Powell is still drying up, and the Amazon rainforest is still slowly turning into the Serengeti. The world is beginning to shift in so many ways and in so many places.

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Teresa H. Sadler