Abandoning agriculture in the tropics cannot be a solution to climate change. A study has looked at the effects of reforesting the entire tropics on the global climate. This simulation was created using the UK Met Office’s climate change model. If the tropics were reforested, the model predicts that the oceans, soil and vegetation would absorb less carbon dioxide. What would happen if every single patch of farmland in the tropics, from Brazil through Congo, India and Indonesia, was abandoned overnight and left to turn back into forests? That’s the question we investigated in our new research . Trees and forests have become increasingly important in plans to tackle the climate emergency, yet our work shows that once you factor in how the soil, oceans and other parts of the Earth system would respond, tree planting is not as potent a solution as it may first seem. Of course, abandoning agriculture in the tropics cannot be a solution to climate change. This was a hypothetical and idealised experiment, but one that helps us to explore how the global carbon cycle might respond to forest restoration and tree planting on a vast scale. And targeting the tropics shows maximum impact […]

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