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More than half of the trees that grow only in Europe risk extinction, says IUCN (dw.com)
76 points by reddotX 26 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 45 comments



I do think there is something hypocritical in us pointing fingers to Brazil for destroying the Amazon forest. In Europe, most forests have been destroyed in the past centuries, all for economic gain. If we are so concerned, why not rebuild those forests. Apparently we are not that concerned, we still make the same choice for economic gain, just like Brazil does.


Most deforestation in Europe was pre-industrial. Europe is actually doing a pretty great job of reforestation - https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2014/12/04...


Good point, yet I'd love to seem a bit more vegetation planted.

I'm only worried about how to make it proper (so not to disrupt the current ecosystem nor create too many cobra effects)


Get rid of humans in a large enough area. Given enough time I am sure it would be back to however its going to be.

Otherwise you probably want a forester looking after it.


We seem to have learnt at least something from those monocrop areas of forestry that were the norm in the early 20th century. There's a number of schemes now trying to recreate some of Europe's mainly long-lost temperate rain forest.

Of course it's far harder to put back than not lose in the first place...


Has Brazil fully industrialized? With a per capita GDP of less than ten thousand dollars and a population mostly employed in the agriculture sector (compared to 2% in the US) I'd say not yet. The west is trying to kick the ladder out from behind them.


Well, if we believe the climate science, then continuing on that old ladder isn’t good for Brazil or anyone else in the world. The goal is to figure out a way to decarbonize economic growth, so that we’re not closing the door on the developing world, but rather providing new avenues for growth.

If the west truly cares about solving the problem of climate change, then we have to accept that we’ve benefited disproportionately from ignoring the negative environmental externalities of our wealth expansion, and pay countries to protect natural resources that benefit the world.

It should be more lucrative for brazillians to protect their forest than it is to burn them down to grow animal feed.


The thesis that you cannot develop sustainably however is a fallacy. It is not one or the other - and more importantly it cannot be any more.


Easily said from your position. Are you willing to give up most of your luxury to make that happen globally? If so, why haven't you yet?


I mean... I am just a random internet person but I've spent a great deal of money to make my commute not use a single drop of gasoline. My house also is a net positive in energy production. It'll take a while to offset the production of the items I had to buy but I have a horizon of a couple of decades - and they'll be recyclable afterwords.

More to the point though is it isn't A) US has to fix itself or B) the developing world needs to be mindful of how it develops - it's both. It's perfectly possible to be "Holy shit guys, the US needs to change how it consumes!" and be like "Holy shit, the developing world needs to change how humans have developed historically!" Hopefully, we'll get back on track in 2020 nationally on A...


Because I'm not a dictator.

I can only make changes by being politically active and making environmentally sound decisions myself/encouraging others. I do these things, but don't have the power to force systemic change.


c02 emissions per captia (metric tons):

France 4.57

United Kingdom 6.50

Germany 8.89

USA 16.49

Brazil 2.59

https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EN.ATM.CO2E.PC?view=map

>making environmentally sound decisions myself/encouraging others

It looks like the Brazilians are doing a better job at that than you are. All I'm trying to say here is we aren't really in a position to wag the finger at anyone. Least of all the people of Brazil.


What good is industrializing recklessly going to do for Brazil or any other developing nation when climate catastrophe destroys all of those GDP gains and more, causes food crises, destroys trillions of dollars of coastal real estate, and causes climate refugee crises? This is not a case where any country is going to benefit from ignoring climate change for more than a few decades.

Climate catastrophe is going to hit the lower GDP nations the hardest, because they're starting with less capital to adapt and mitigate the effects. All they'd be doing by developing carbon intensive economies is flooring the accelerator towards the cliff.

At any rate, it's a false dichotomy. With the current state of renewables, countries like Brazil, India, China, and Nigeria can continue to industrialize with clean energy and skip coal-based industrialization. They can also develop cities and infrastructure to support mass transit much better than some other nations did.


> a population mostly employed in the agriculture sector (compared to 2% in the US)

It's 10% of the population, about a quarter of GDP, so not "mostly". Brazil is usually put into the Newly Industrialised Country category. It has quite a bit of secondary sector giants too.


Fair enough. I didn't look up Brazil specially but I am familiar with the rates in the region and assumed they were similar.

Western countries have not eliminated a quarter of their GDP to prevent climate change, shouldn't they do that before telling those much poorer than they to do so?


Stopping the deforestation isn't going to affect the GDP at all, let alone slash a quarter of it.

Keep in mind that the deforestation is purely caused by the livestock industry trying to squeeze profits. There are other ways to produce meat that don't involve invading and burning forests.

According to the government, in 2017 only 5,7% of the GDP is directly related to agriculture and livestock production [1]. And according to an industry website livestock was responsible for only 31% of that [2].

The rest of that "one quarter" is related to processing and distribution, which can happen in urban areas closer to the southeast, far away from the Amazon, and those things don't benefit at all from the deforestation.

And the processing/distribution industry could exist by itself without local production, as proved by places like Hong Kong, the largest importer of Brazilian beef. [3]

By the way, the biggest producer of beef in Brazil is the state of Sao Paulo, which is on the other side of the country, not at all related to Amazon. [3]

So nope. Stopping the Amazon deforestation RIGHT NOW won't even make dent in our GDP.

---

[1] http://www.agricultura.gov.br/noticias/agropecuaria-puxa-o-p...

[2] https://www.beefpoint.com.br/abiec-perfil-da-pecuaria-no-bra...

[3] https://www.globalmeatnews.com/Article/2018/01/18/Brazilian-...


If this is so inexpensive why not agree to pay producers the costs incurred for not engaging in the practice plus a small fee if they don't engage in deforestation? They would be stupid to turn down free money and given so many people are concerned and the total amount being so low this measure could be funded by donations easily. This could be handled in a few days if what you say is true.


Because those people are operating outside the law. It's not as if we know who they are.

It happens to be a crime here in Brazil to invade lands and burn preserved areas. People should and have been arrested for it.

The deforestation is purely a political problem, this has nothing to do with economics as you've tried to portray here.

--

Btw, by "political problem" I mean that the government was outright saying that the deforestation and fires "are normal" [1], or they're accusing NGOs of starting the fires [2], or even denying external help to avoid the fires in Amazon [3].

The current position of the government is different, however. Now is that the fires should be stopped, and the army has been sent to Amazon to arrest people. [4]

And that was thanks to both external and internal pressure. Why did it took so long? Because there were too many criminal apologists trying to justify why burning the country was needed. But it wasn't.

---

[1] https://noticias.uol.com.br/meio-ambiente/ultimas-noticias/a...

[2] https://noticias.uol.com.br/meio-ambiente/ultimas-noticias/r...

[3] https://noticias.uol.com.br/meio-ambiente/ultimas-noticias/r...

[4] https://exame.abril.com.br/brasil/exercito-prende-63-pessoas...


> If we are so concerned, why not rebuild those forests.

it's been reported plenty of times that europe keeps getting more forests e.g.[0]

> Between 1990 and 2015, the area covered by forests and woodlands increased by 90,000 square kilometres - an area roughly the size of Portugal.

The problem with european forests is mostly, AFAIU, the fact that the few remaining old growth ones are still being cut, such as in Poland.

[0] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/07/forest-europe-environ....


The other problem is that non-native pests and diseases keep killing off trees. For example, the article mentions mountain ash as a species that's endangered. They're suffering from a nasty fungus that came here from Asia - the Asian species of ash have evolved to defend themselves from it, but the European ones have no defences and can't survive infection.


Even those sad cases of cutting down old growth forest won't be replaced by agriculture or industry - new trees will be planted. Hopefully they'll allow native trees to-grow instead of planting imported trees. I couldn't find details if they're doing clear cut or selective and giving time for remaining trees to multiple.


> pointing fingers to Brazil for destroying the Amazon forest.

That is rich, considering Brazil is the world’s leading exporter of both beef and poultry, exporting to more than 150 countries. Brazilian beef is the main reason for the massive deforestation in the Amazon.

> A 2004 World Bank paper and a 2009 Greenpeace report found that the cattle sector in the Brazilian Amazon, supported by the international beef and leather trades, was responsible for about 80% of all deforestation in the region,[3][2] or about 14% of the world's total annual deforestation, making it the largest single driver of deforestation in the world.[4] According to a 2006 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 70% of formerly forested land in the Amazon, and 91% of land deforested since 1970, is used for livestock pasture.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deforestation_of_the_Amazon_ra...

People who eat meat imported from Brazil blames Brazil for destroying the Amazon forest? Even if you do not eat meat imported from Brazil, you should "blame" the consumers who do. If there would be no demand for it, there would be no financial incentives for all this destruction.


The EU is not a huge importer of beef, since we produce quite a bit ourselves (net exporters). Hong Kong alone imported 2.5x more beef from Brazil than the whole of the EU in 2018 (some of it for resale).


I know. Sorry, I should have clarified that I was not necessarily referring to Europeans, but any people who blame Brazil AND buy Brazilian beef. I do not think we even have Brazilian beef around where I live, in Eastern Europe.


But isn't the EU downsizing production of meat, and importing more over the years? (Which would be a double problem, since you now have the issue of transportation).


At least regarding beef, no; imports have remain steady, while exports have increased. From the "Beef & Veal Market Situation" EC report: https://cdn1.imggmi.com/uploads/2019/9/28/fe1dd519b19bb90850...


I know you say this in good faith, but as a Brazilian I find this comment very condescending and unproductive.

If Brazil wants to become as rich as Europe it needs to focus on things that made Europe what it is right now: industry, services, technological innovation.

The Amazon deforestation is only beneficial to agriculture. Focusing on it is basically sending us back to the 19th century.

EDIT: I also made another comment pointing out how minor the effects of stopping the deforestation altogether would be in our economy: https://news.ycombinator.com/edit?id=21101628


While the basic message is probably true the way the article is so economical with the facts that it rightly belongs in the trash.

The one example it cites is for a species of moth from the Balkans. Last time I checked the Balkans were still part of Europe so this species of leaf-mining moth could be expected to colonise more northerly parts of the continent as the climate warmed. So no real surprises there. It's probably happened in the past and yet we still have horse chestnut trees.

Other weasel sentences such as "The study said 42% of the 454 tree species in Europe, which include some found elsewhere, could die out on the continent." So "some found elsewhere". What percentage are found elsewhere? Where exactly is elsewhere. Some species are probably very widespread indeed so losing a few at the edges of their range are inconsequential.

The real story here is Europe's fragmented habitats means that a lot of trees are going to have a hard time adjusting to climate change - there's nowhere to go. Pollution puts a lot of stress on trees - remember acid rain? While there is a real problem with imported insects, fungi, etc. none of that is mentioned.

A lazy article, written by a lazy journalist who just threw in "extinction" to spice things up and sow fear, doubt and uncertainly.


On top of the 'natural' threats mentioned in the article there are two specific EU policies that threaten trees in the EU even more.

The EU has a policy to get the member states to reach a certain percentage of 'renewables' in the energy basket or face stiff fines. So far so good. However, commercial logging managed to get 'wood pellets' on the list of 'renewables'. The result? Forests and roadside trees are being 'harvested' like there is no tomorrow because it helps meet the quota.

The EU set up a program for returning surfaces to more 'original' vegetation. Much of Europe's forests in low forested areas are created 2 or 3 centuries ago to serve as hunting grounds for the aristocracy. 'Nature' organizations (pretend green lobbies in reality) are now strip cutting forests in the name of 'planting more native species' and even 'landscape diversity' in regions that barely have tree left. 'Coincidentally' raking in nice subsidies to do so with a positive financial return, allowing them to buy more land to 'converse' raking in more subsidies...

Yeah, I know you can see the excessive airquotes, but I'm mad as hell.


An interesting point came up this past summer when discussing allergies in cities. The trees that are planted in cities tend to be male since female trees will bear fruit and are messy.

I wonder if the lack of diversity (yes even in trees!) is causing problems. If there were a mix of male and female would trees be able to evolve or at least grow more offspring.


I consider myself somewhat of a permaculturist, but I try to stay pragmatic. Genetically modified seeds are something we should be heavily looking into — and people who care about the environment should support that research, rather than shouting, “something, something, Monsanto.”


On another article, a user is wondering why there isn't a public uproar and why isn't absolutely everyone writing to their representing politicians about car rental companies ripping them off of 15€ for their Hamburg-Milan cross country holiday family car trip. I dare everyone reading this to actually take the time and write to their politicians to act against climate change and urbanisation. Time is up already.


Why act against urbanisation? Making more people move to densely populated cities is saving energy and natural resources.


I don't believe that cities in developed countries are becoming denser. Rather, the commercial area per person is increasing.


Even if true, they're still more dense and car-free than non-urban areas. That's just a reason to advocate for increased density, not against urbanization.


> "Time us up already".

Then what's the point writing to our politicians?


There are going to be drastic changes to our ways of life, and without any action it will be much worse later. But don't trust me, please read the latest IPCC and IPBES reports and make your own mind.


So time isn't up?

I don't need convincing, I'm not a climate change skeptic. I'm just pointing out that you went too far with the FUD tactic. It's counter productive to your call to action, if you also insinuate that action is futile.


Thanks for the advice, I'll use another phrasing from now on.

I don't want to convince skeptics. I want people who are aware of the situation to take actions themselves, and ask for actions from others, be it their representatives, local politicians, family, local associations, etc.


Can anyone explain me what is the danger of losing 60% of the species? As soon as we maintain the same volumes in tree, it is overall fine, isn't it?


A single tree can be an entire ecosystem in itself from all the fungi, lichens, insects, mammals, birds, etc. etc. A loss of tree species means a loss of others too. A lot of migrants birds and animals depend on seasonal fruits and nuts as they move south so the effects of species loss can be very far ranging indeed.

While the idea that planting more trees to ameliorate climate change is a good one there is a risk that simple, ignorant, solutions such as planting fast growing eucalyptus or pine species could be seen as the fast path to success. Instead focussing on native species, which are slow growing in comparison, would actually solve the much greater problem that comes with climate change - habitat degradation and generate ecosystems that are generally most robust and able to withstand stresses better.


While it probably isn't the main concern, different species produce lumber with different properties. The loss of Elm trees in the uk removed a timber that was very useful for boatbuilding, for example (thought that is a bit of a niche concern).


Wow, I hadn't known about that niche for elm! I searched because I unfairly doubted you, and thought you might be confusing elm with some other tree. Here's a comment thread that provides some more information: http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?212281-Elm-in-boa...


We don't, and probably can't, know the ripple effects from each individual lost species. Some will have an important place in the incredibly complex food web. So we'll lose other species in other parts of the food chain. Some may turn out to be critical to something we find important. Once they're lost, no matter how critical they turned out to be, it's too late.

At the other extreme, we do know the problems associated with extensive monocropping. We've seen the effects of monocrop agriculture and forestry through the 20th century. The more healthy biodiversity we can keep in all species, the better for us.


It's not predictable what will happen - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVOHgztZ3XI




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