The world is seeing the biggest mass deforestation in history as a consequence of global warming, according to a new study published by the Global Footprint Network (GFTN), a research organization that studies deforestation and climate change.
More than 200 million trees are cut every year globally in the name of agriculture, forestry and development.
More than 100 million of those are in the United States alone, and that figure is projected to grow to over 250 million trees by 2050.
The authors of the new study, published on Monday in the journal PLOS One, said the number of global forest cover has fallen by almost half since the 1970s, from about 1.5 billion to less than 700 million trees.
“We are seeing an unprecedented mass extinction in forests,” said study lead author Michael P. Anderson, an associate professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“It’s unprecedented in human history.
I think that it’s really important for people to know about this and be aware of it.”
The study, conducted by the GFTN, used data from the US Forest Service and the Global Forest Cover Dataset (GFCD) to show how forest cover in the US has declined in the past two decades, as the global warming crisis has intensified.
It found that the United Kingdom has lost the most trees, with almost half the land mass covered by forests being in the UK.
In the United Arab Emirates, more than 50 percent of the land is covered in forests, and the rest in arable land.
In Kenya, more forests were destroyed in the last five years than the previous 20 years.
The study also found that in the world’s major countries, the percentage of forests that are in danger of being lost has risen from 25 percent to more than 80 percent.
The United States has the highest rate of forest loss in the study at 24 percent.
India and China are in second and third place, respectively, with 15 and 11 percent of their land covered by forest.
Brazil and South Africa are third and fourth, respectively.
The US has the second-highest rate of deforestation in the GFFD, at 23 percent.
According to the GFSD, the United Nations Environment Programme, about 6.4 billion hectares of land has been lost worldwide in the 20th century due to habitat loss, loss of wildlife habitat, and degradation of agricultural production.
This study highlights the importance of forest conservation, Anderson said, pointing to examples of efforts in places like Cambodia, Indonesia, and Malaysia to reduce deforestation.
“This is a huge problem that we have to deal with, because the land needs to be protected, and it’s not just a matter of making a big tree stand still and waiting for the next drought,” he said.
The forest cover loss rate in the Americas has increased from about 4 percent to 13 percent in the same period, according the study.
It is also projected to increase in Southeast Asia, and in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
The researchers also found a correlation between the rate of climate change and the loss of forests.
“It’s hard to know how much impact climate change has on forest loss, but if you look at all the countries in the region, all of them have been hit by this climate change, and their forest cover is going down,” Anderson said.
“There’s been some loss, and we need to know why it’s happening, so we can mitigate it.”
He added that climate change is likely having an impact on forest degradation.
“The question of climate sensitivity has become a little bit more relevant in terms of the climate impacts, and what we are seeing is that climate-driven changes are being more significant in the rate at which forests are being lost,” Anderson added.
“And this is where the impacts are going to be felt.”
The findings from this study are consistent with a growing body of research, including from scientists at the Harvard Woods Institute for the Environment, which has shown that warming temperatures are already affecting global forests, affecting both human and wildlife life, and threatening the stability of biodiversity.
“Climate change is the biggest threat we face,” said lead author Jennifer M. Novella, a research scientist in the Woods Institute’s Climate and Ecological Modelling Group, who is also an associate director of the Woods Hole Research Center.
“In this study, we found that a doubling of CO2 would be equivalent to one-fifth of global forests being destroyed.”
According to Novello, there are a number of ways to deal the climate crisis, including reducing carbon emissions through emissions trading, reducing energy use and increasing the use of renewable energy sources.
The GFTXN, a nonprofit organization that supports conservation and climate action, released a statement on the study Monday, urging all governments and institutions to do more to conserve the world to meet the needs of the future.
The report also called on policymakers and businesses to support efforts to conserve forests and wildlife habitats.
The findings come on the heels of the announcement