One of the most charming qualities of trees is their ability to absorb atmospheric CO2, and the loss of large tracts of forested land is widely imagined as a contributing factor to global warming. Except it’s just not true, as Alexander Hammond points out in Human Progress, noting that environmental activists’ claims about total forest loss of 80% make no mathematical sense, as over a quarter of the earth’s surface remains forested. Nope, that doesn’t scan! In fact the total area of the earth’s landmass covered with forest has actually reached a point of equilibrium, due largely to the process of “afforestation,” or new forests growing on previously unforested land.
- The rate of loss has slowed to a decrease of 0.059% per year, with the trend line pointing towards zero.
- Hammond also takes on the mistaken belief that much new forest is low quality or plantation style cultivation, noting that 93% of the world’s forest is classified as natural forest according to the FAO.