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Cutting Deforestation To Avert Global Warming Cheaply
July 1, 2007

Slowing tropical deforestation is an essential and cost-effective way to avert severe climate change, according to a new study published recently in Science Express, an advanced online publication of the journal Science.

An international team of 11 top forest and climate researchers, including civil and environmental engineer Roni Avissar of Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, found that cutting deforestation rates in half by mid-century would amount to 12 percent of the emissions reductions needed to keep concentrations of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere at relatively safe levels.

“Slowing tropical deforestation won’t, by itself, solve the climate problem,” said Peter Frumhoff, the study’s corresponding author and director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). “But for many developing countries, it is their largest source of emissions. Climate policymakers have a historic opportunity to support their efforts to find economically viable alternatives to deforestation and do their part to slow global warming. ”

A widely reported earlier study had suggested that global warming could potentially dry out many tropical forests, increasing fires that release the large quantity of carbon stored in their trees into the atmosphere. The authors now provide new evidence that tropical forests will persist in the face of climate change, especially if nations make needed cuts in both industrial and deforestation emissions.

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