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Amazon’s thirst alarming for Earth

December 4, 2010

From The Vancouver Sun

By Stuart Grudgings, Reuters

The river loops low past its bleached-white banks, where caimans bask in the fierce morning sun and stranded houseboats tilt precariously. Nearby sits a beached barge with its load of eight trucks and a crane. Its owners were caught out by the speed of the river’s decline.

This is what it looks like when the world’s greatest rainforest is thirsty. If climate scientists are right, parched Amazon scenes like this will become more common in the coming decades, possibly threatening the survival of the forest and accelerating global warming.

The environmental and economic consequences could be huge — for Brazil, for South America, for the planet.


Years like this add credence to predictions that, by the middle of this century, the forest will suffer “mega-droughts” lasting years, killing trees en masse.

That, in turn, would reduce rainfall over the remaining forest, creating a vicious cycle that would turn much of the Amazon into a savannah-like state by 2100. Ecologists and climatologists say there may come “a tipping point” after which the death of the forest becomes self-sustained by higher temperatures, dwindling rain levels and destructive fires.

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From The Vancouver Sun

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