Why are we ignoring deforestation in the climate change debate?

I am delighted to hear the Democratic Party presidential primary candidates debate among themselves about how they intend to attack the scourge of climate change/global warming.

They recognize the obvious, that it poses a grim and dire threat to our national security. They are challenging Donald Trump’s ridiculous assertion that climate change is a “hoax” cooked up by the Chinese, who are trying to “destroy our fossil fuel industry.”

There. That all said, I am wondering about what I believe is a missing element in the climate change debate.

While the candidates talk about carbon emissions and their impact on the atmospheric temperature and the changing climate, I hear next to no one mention deforestation as a key part of the crisis.

What’s going on in many regions of the world? Human beings are encroaching further and more deeply into habitat occupied exclusively by wildlife. To do that humans are wiping out millions of acres of forestland annually. Why is this important? How does it contribute to the changing climate worldwide?

Trees consume carbon dioxide and emit oxygen. CO2 warms the atmosphere, while oxygen cools it. With more CO2 being thrown into the air with less oxygen present to counteract its impact, well … what do you think happens? The atmosphere warms up. Those polar ice caps are exposed to warmer air. The ice melts. The oceans’ levels rise. You know how this goes.

And yet we hear precious little from these men and women running for president that speaks directly to ways to pressure other nations to curb their deforestation efforts. What’s more, the European Union is the leading importer of goods produced from the deforestation epidemic that continues full throttle throughout the world.

This plague is occurring throughout Latin America, in Africa, in Southeast and South Asia. Lush forests are disappearing daily.

Developing countries are looking for places to grow, to improve industrial capacity, to find places where their residents can live, rear their families and continue their search for success and happiness. I don’t begrudge them those desires.

However, the cost of all this hideous scarring of our planet is too great to ignore.

We’re going to elect a president in 2020. If we keep the current guy in power, climate change will continue to get short shrift from the White House. We need someone in power who at a bare minimum is going to refocus our effort to curbing this terrible trend.

We also need to apply a lot more of our focus on finding ways to stop obliterating Earth’s forest lands. Without those trees, we are doomed to suffocate in an ever-warming environment.

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