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Old 08-28-2019, 02:47 PM
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Are we being lied to about the Amazon rainforest burning's effect on earth's oxygen levels?


Now, I dont know, but I just read this article in the Atlantic that debunks the story that 20% of the worlds oxygen is produced in the Amazon rainforests and as they burn, so will our planets oxygen.

I dont know. I dont like taking just one writers word. Are there any other sources to look into this?
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Old 08-28-2019, 03:02 PM
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Science stories in general, and environmental stories in particular, are not things the media handles well. They need to attract attention, rather than educate.

The 20% claim is an exaggeration. That doesn't make the fires a non-event, but if they don't make it sound like a crisis, people won't react.

The figure I heard (eventually) is 5%, and that's for the whole Amazon. And the whole Amazon isn't burning. Yes, deforestation is bad.

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Old 08-28-2019, 03:38 PM
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Who is lying to you? Looks like the Atlantic isn't. Snopes isn't. Forbes isn't.
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Old 08-28-2019, 04:23 PM
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Well to be fair, I think the fire is the only way to drive away the poison tree frogs that guard El Dorado and finally reclaim its lost golden riches.
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Last edited by pool; 08-28-2019 at 04:24 PM.
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Old 08-28-2019, 08:27 PM
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Related questions to throw out -

What fraction of the world CO2 sequestration is by the Amazon?

How much CO2 is being release by the current fires and how quickly will forest regrowth recapture how much of it?
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Old 08-29-2019, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by DSeid View Post
Related questions to throw out -

What fraction of the world CO2 sequestration is by the Amazon?

How much CO2 is being release by the current fires and how quickly will forest regrowth recapture how much of it?
As to your first question, I don't know. From the piece I heard on NPR, the issue is that they are burning trees to clear for farm land.

I don't know how much a mature forest sequesters. New trees replacing old ones wouldn't sequester all that much - more a steady state. AIUI the issue is that the trees are being burned, the land is used for farming, and since the land isn't that great for farming, the farm land is abandoned after a few years and the trees are then replaced by shrubs and grass, which probably doesn't absorb much CO2 overall.

The scientist I heard on NPR talked more about the Amazon being a cooling system. The evaporation or condensation of water, which is enhanced by the cover provided by trees (and not by farm land) absorbs heat from the environment.

Obviously fires would release heat as well as CO2.

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Shodan
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Old 08-29-2019, 09:45 AM
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The scientist I heard on NPR talked more about the Amazon being a cooling system. The evaporation or condensation of water, which is enhanced by the cover provided by trees (and not by farm land) absorbs heat from the environment.

Obviously fires would release heat as well as CO2.

Regards,
Shodan
I'd actually read the cooling aspect as being a large component of weather- if a large proportion of the Amazon was to burn, you'd get weird changes in weather as a result.

Plus, the bigger risk is that apparently that sort of rainforest has some kind of critical mass to function, and if too much is destroyed, it'll change into more of a savannah-type biome.
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Old 08-29-2019, 12:08 PM
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Urbanredneck, serious question: did you read the entire article or quit when you got to the part that said burning the Amazon doesn't affect the world's supply of oxygen? Just curious as to what you thought about what the article said the real danger to the earth's oxygen supply is.
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Old 08-29-2019, 12:28 PM
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I still want to know who is lying to the OP. I'll add this message board to the places that aren't lying:

https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...d.php?t=880887
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Old 08-29-2019, 03:24 PM
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The French President, Macron, made the claim. He's not a journalist, nor a scientist, of course.

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 08-29-2019, 03:27 PM
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The French President, Macron, made the claim. He's not a journalist, nor a scientist, of course.

Regards,
Shodan
Yeah, maybe the OP saw reporting of a politician getting it wrong and thought it was the media itself lying?

ETA: Vox should have corrected Macron's factual error, of course.

Last edited by RitterSport; 08-29-2019 at 03:29 PM.
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Old 08-29-2019, 04:45 PM
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Now, I dont know, but I just read this article in the Atlantic that debunks the story that 20% of the worlds oxygen is produced in the Amazon rainforests and as they burn, so will our planets oxygen.
I find Atlantic to be an extremely credible news outlet, so if they say the Amazon is not the earth's lung and it makes no important oxygen contribution, then I will trust them and stop repeating that trope starting now.

But, the truth in that article is just as disturbing. If I'm reading correctly, then most of our atmospheric oxygen actually comes from buried carbon. So we're depleting our global oxygen reserves as we slowly mine and burn fossil fuels.

Still, I personally think we should refrain from burning the Amazon, because even if it isn't exactly the earth's lung, it influences the weather, it's a huge source of biodiversity, it supports ecosystems that we don't understand, and nobody really knows what could happen if we lose it. Plus I've never seen it.
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Old 08-29-2019, 11:20 PM
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I think Brazil should charge the world an air tax. They could spend that money employing their citizens to maintain the integrity of the rain forest.
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Old 08-30-2019, 05:56 AM
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Please read my contributions to the earlier thread. Especially these posts.
https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...8&postcount=36
https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...4&postcount=45

In short, the oxygen levels will not be measurably affected by the Amazon fires. But the carbon dioxide levels could be severely affected.
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Old 09-07-2019, 02:13 PM
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To go back to the OP, I'd say no, we aren't being lied to. We just aren't paying attention. You have to pick your sources. I don't watch CNN, but all I seem to read is stories about how the Amazon isn't responsible for 20 percent of the O2. For example, here's a Chicago Tribune headline "Is the Amazon the ‘lungs of the world’? Northwestern scientist says rainforest not source of 20 percent of Earth’s oxygen, but fires can add to greenhouse effect" which is true. Macron misspoke. I'm not going to say he lied, but he's been corrected over and over.

The general population seems to think that O2 and CO2 are roughly equal parts of the atmosphere, whereas O2 is a fifth of the atmosphere, and CO2 is measured in parts per million. A trivial amount but that slight amount of CO2 helps kept warm. Unfortunately, it's gone up about 25% (320ppm to 400ppm) just over my lifetime, so now that's keeping us more than a bit too warm. I don't know the effect of burning a rain-forest, but it's not going to take a lot of CO2 to shift the curve up still more.
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