Most people are ignorant of the crucial role the rainforests play in keeping the global climate stable, a survey has revealed.
More than 60 per cent of people questioned thought air travel and domestic heating produced more greenhouse gases than the destruction of the forests.
Deforestation releases huge volumes of CO2. In fact deforestation releases more CO2 into the atmosphere each year than all of the world’s planes, trains and automobiles put together.
The survey commissioned by the Rainforest Foundation UK (RFUK) revealed that 62% thought more CO2 is produced by the UK’s housing stock each year than by deforestation. The truth is that cutting down the rainforests for agriculture and grazing produces more carbon emissions than all the UK domestic energy use.
ICM questioned more than 1000 British adults for the poll which found that 53% wrongly blamed aviation for more carbon emissions than deforestation. In fact rainforest destruction produces more CO2 emissions than all international air travel combined.
The survey was carried out to mark the launch of RFUK’s Hot & Bothered campaign which aims to make people more aware of the role that the protection of rainforests can play in tackling climate change while at the same time helping indigenous communities who rely on the rainforests for their survival.
Each hectare of rainforest – roughly the size of two football pitches – holds an average of 160 tonnes of carbon and an area almost the size of England and Wales is cut down every year releasing billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. The destruction results in millions of people worldwide being made homeless while driving animals and plants to extinction.
RFUK Director Simon Counsell said: “At the current rate of destruction, deforestation contributes about as much to global greenhouse gas emissions annually as the entire United States, mostly from the loss of tropical forests.
We need to put an end to it, but at the same time we need to make sure that the rainforest is protected in a responsible and sustainable way. Our experience shows that the best way to protect rainforests is to secure the rights of the communities that have always lived in and depended on them.
By launching the Hot & Bothered campaign, we’re calling on the public to recognise the role that these areas can play in reducing carbon emissions, while demanding that even bigger steps be taken here at home. By helping us to protect the rainforest, people can make a real contribution to tackling climate change.”
RFUK has unveiled a ‘Virtual Rainforest’ which allows people to protect and personalise their own online acre for a £25 donation. Each online acre will help RFUK to place real acres of forest into the hands of the people that live there.
More information can be found at The Rainforest Foundation.
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