Policy Brief Post

By Valentina Balatsenko

With a continued decrease in the number of forest land in the United States, deforestation is an issue that will continue to contribute to environmental issues across the nation. These issues include drought, wildfires, loss of habitat for species, and an increased amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. One of the problems with the issue of deforestation, is that the impacts it has are also some of the biggest causes. Droughts can cause deforestation by weakening trees and making it harder for them to fight against predatory insects; wildfires destroy millions of hectares of forest land, non-native invasive species destroy wildlife around the nation, and can lead to destroyed crops and farmland, which would affect the nation’s food supply and agriculture economy. Climate change and deforestation are serious issues that cannot be ignored or taken lightly. 

Introduction

As the world becomes more and more populous and globalized, climate change and the destruction of forests are becoming more prominent issues. The problems of climate change and deforestation, while not directly dependent on one another, are related in the sense that both contribute to the other and create a damaging cycle for the planet. In the United States alone, the nation saw a loss of over 100 million hectares of forest land in the last 300 years. This deforestation was caused by excessive logging, wildfires, introduction of non-native invasive species, and more. Different solutions have been considered when looking at how to move forward, but a serious and drastic approach must be taken by the government in order to prevent the problem from getting worse. 

Approaches and Results

The issue, stated plainly, is that the world’s average temperature is increasing and the planet’s steady loss of forests is both a result of this problem, as well as one of the factors contributing to it. About ⅓ of the United States’ land is forested, but the nation’s forests face threats that will continue to contribute to climate change around the world if something is not done. A couple different possible solutions have been examined in the past, which include implementing stricter forestry laws, but the most realistic possible solution that has been examined in this page is the path of rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement. Rejoining the agreement would give the United States the opportunity to work with other nations in the world to slow down the planet’s temperature increase as well as work to prevent the spread of non-native species and diseases to the forests, which would contribute to further deforestation. 

The Paris Climate Agreement is crucial for the future of climate change as well as deforestation because it focuses on the reduction of greenhouse gases in major countries. The Agreement aims to reduce the global temperature increase from 2 degrees to 1.5 degrees. Slowing down the increase in the global temperature would help keep wildfires and droughts under control, which are direct contributors to deforestation around the country and the world. 

Conclusion

Based on past trends of deforestation in the United States, while the rate of deforestation has slowed down drastically and it is not at the scale it used to be a few centuries ago, the threat to the nation’s forests are still an issue that needs action in order to save the environment of the future. 

Implications

If no steps are taken, the global temperature could continue to increase, which could lead to extinction of many species, loss of wildlife, and loss of many natural resources. With the environment and the planet’s ecosystems being crucial to the survival of humans across the world, the further destruction of forests and the environment could lead to devastating loss of food and farmable land. Continued increase in the planet’s average temperature could lead to more wildfires, more droughts, and melting of the polar ice caps. 

Recommendation

A recommendation for future policies regarding this issue would be to start by taking environmental issues seriously. If countries are able to recognize the growing threat of climate change and work together to slow down the increase in temperature, the nations in the world can also help prevent the extinction of species whose habitats would otherwise be destroyed in an environment affected by climate change. Countries should take more seriously the effect that emissions have on the overall environment and recognize that it is an issue that not only impacts their territory, but the entire planet. 

In terms of direct policy recommendations, the United States should rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. In doing so, the United States can focus on the environmental issues and hold itself accountable for emissions produced. While this option may face backlash from companies that are able to operate at lower costs with the production of emissions, this is a price that the United States should be willing to pay in order to protect the future of the nation. At the time of writing this post, the President-elect Joe Biden has shown support for rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement. However, if the withdrawal from the Agreement made by the current Trump Administration is successfully carried out, it may take more steps for the new administration to rejoin. The people in charge of the policies related to the environment need to think about how working with the other countries in the Agreement and holding the nation accountable will be beneficial to the country in the long run and will also set an example for other countries to hold themselves accountable in regards to environmental impacts and greenhouse gas emissions.

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