The Ever-Clearer Link Between Deforestation and Public Health
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Forests serve many purposes: They store carbon, regulate weather, hold more biodiversity than any other land-based ecosystem, and provide shelter and food to hundreds of millions of people. But they are being chopped down at an alarming rate—a soccer field worth of primary rainforest every 6 seconds. Demand for forest products, especially from places like China, the EU, and North America, is turning forests into everything from toilet paper to energy, including wood pellets to meet “renewable energy” requirements in Europe and charcoal for cooking in sub-Saharan Africa. But the biggest threat to forests comes from food production, either directly, by cutting down trees to make room for cattle, or indirectly, by clearing land to grow soy to feed livestock.
For decades, environmentalists have been trying to conserve forests in a few ways: by touting their importance as “the lungs of the world;” by trying to quantify the carbon in them to monetize their preservation; and by showing us pictures of orangutans losing their homes because of our desire for Nutella. And while the past decade has seen slightly less forest loss, deforestation is still rapidly expanding around the world, and very few of the commitments corporations and governments have made to halt deforestation are on target.
One reason so many of these campaigns may not have succeeded is that they don’t fulfill any characteristics that make people generally feel like an activity is risky, according to Wändi Bruine de Bruin, provost professor of public policy, psychology, and behavioral science at the University of Southern California, who studies how people perceive risk.
People’s sense of risk is heightened when something is happening to them individually, “here, now, and without uncertainty,” she says. This has historically been one reason it has been hard to convey the risk of other threats like climate change to the public. “In the past, climate change was often perceived by non-experts as something that would happen in the future, with uncertainty, and to other people,” Bruine de Bruin says. “Those three things are associated with just not being very worried about it. But it’s changing because a majority of people in most countries are now seeing that climate change is affecting them now, and where they live.”
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction
June 8, 2021 at 9:37 PM #428413MistaPParticipant
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in many regions like Central America ranching expansion in fact uses moving subsistence production to break through the forest, and follows behind
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