Facts and Debates on the Future of the Amazon Forest
Hector E. Maletta
Universidad del Pacífico
June 27, 2010
Parcerias Estrategicas, (Brasilia, Brazil), No. 30, pp. 77-128 July 2010
The future of the Amazon rainforest is a matter of much concern worldwide. It has been predicted that increasing deforestation and the impact of climate change would rapidly and dramatically reduce the extent of the forest area and its density. Some authors have suggested the possibility of a catastrophic savannisation or 'die-back' of the forest in a relatively short time due to global warming and deforestation combined. This 'die-back' in turn would itself contribute to an acceleration of global warming. This paper, which essentially follows the climate projections of the latest (2007) report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as well as other available data and scientific results on the prospects of global and regional climate, examines the evidence about deforestation trends and about the expected impact of climate change over the Amazon. It concludes that deforestation rates are much lower than previously thought and rapidly decreasing; that deforestation is largely concentrated along the basin's borders outside the vast rainforest core; and that, even in the absence of the observed declining trends in deforestation, catastrophic forecasts of rapid Amazon 'die-back' also lack scientific basis, especially when predicted to occur in a few decades or within this century.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 33
Keywords: Amazon, rainforest, forest, climate change, deforestation, environment, ENSO, El Niño, Brazil, South America, dieback, tipping point
JEL Classification: Q23, Q24, R14, Q15, O13, O18
Date posted: November 20, 2009 ; Last revised: January 30, 2012
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