Though there are various environmental issues that plague the world today, deforestation is yet one of the most dangerous and harmful one that can be completely stopped by humans. Deforestation is one of the few environmental issues that isn’t too difficult to stop, but if continued for a prolonged amount of time, can cause devastation to not only humans, but even the diverse creatures that call their home the trees and foliage around them.

To start off, deforestation is the permanent destruction of trees in order to make the space available for other uses, such as houses and construction sites to make human life easier. A majority of deforestation is used to make space for agricultural uses, such as farm land, or even to use the timber for fuel. The World Bank estimates that about 3.9 million acres of trees were lost since the beginning of the 20th century, and the forest shrank by a whopping 502,000 square miles for industrial uses (a size bigger than South Africa). To make this understandable, this is equal to a chunk of forest, as big as a soccer field, being lost each second by humans. Moving on, given these alarming statistics, it is evident that there are consequences to the actions we do.

One major effect to deforestation is soil erosion, the wearing away of topsoil caused by natural physical forces. Once deforestation occurs in a particular area, soil erosion is deadly, as it can allow giant and disastrous mudslides to come in and merge into a nearby river. This not only damages the wildlife and plants living inside the river, but it can also clog irrigation structures and cause further damage to hydroelectric structures. Next, the water cycle is a fundamental process in which all the water on Earth gets distributed throughout the land. Trees, for example, take in the water and release it into the atmosphere during photosynthesis.

However, when more and more trees are being cut down, the water they extract and release into the atmosphere is no longer there. This causes the surrounding terrain to become overly dry and barren with no wildlife or trees whatsoever. This ultimately causes the forest, which once was lush, to become prone to wildfires and lose a great amount of the wildlife that once lived in it. This process or the state of barren land is formally known as desertification. Furthermore, dangerous gases such as methane and carbon dioxide (greenhouse gases), stay inside trees, and it is the trees job to contain these gases safely from the environment. When these trees get cut for agricultural use, the carbon dioxide gets released into the atmosphere, and the more the count of trees dwindle, the buildup of these gases increase. Believe it or not, deforestation causes about 30% of the greenhouse gas contribution.

Well, when there are problems in society, it is our job to effectively solve them, and help the environment. There are countless things, you, as the citizen of the United States can do to aid in solving this worldwide issue. The first thing you can do is to plant a tree anywhere possible, it is easy to plant trees with just some water and a seed. This plant will soon grow and make up for one tree lost in the world.

If everyone plants one tree in the world, millions of trees can thrive and make up for the lost. So even when cutting down a tree, we should make it necessary to grow a tree where we left our trail. To help nature without doing hard work, you can make it a priority to go paperless whenever you work or when you are in school. Try not to waste too much paper if using it, and try to keep the amount of paper used at a minimum. If consumers use less paper, the amount manufactured will be less, therefore the trees cut down will significantly decrease. Finally, try to use recycled products, or recycle your own products by using scrap paper for other uses.

Kanishk Neerumalla
Plainsboro