Forests Are Losing Capability to Absorb Carbon Dioxide, Study Says

Category : Science/Environment

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. crucial / ˈkru ʃəl / (adj) – very important

    Having a balanced diet is crucial in maintaining good health.

  2. halt / hɔlt / (v) – to stop something either temporarily or permanently

    The police officers were called to halt the riot in the city.

  3. absorption / æbˈsɔrp ʃən / (n) – the process of taking in something

    His body’s absorption of nutrients weakened as he got older.

  4. stabilize / ˈsteɪ bəˌlaɪz / (v) – to keep a steady pace, level, or quantity

    The patient’s condition stabilized after the surgery.

  5. a matter of time / ə ˈmæt ər əv taɪm / (idiom) – certain to happen eventually

    It is only a matter of time before I leave my family again.


Read the text below.

A study found that tropical forests can no longer eliminate carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere like they used to.

The study was conducted by a team of European and African researchers who examined over 300,000 trees in the Amazon and African forests for 30 years. To determine the amount of CO2 stored in the trees, the researchers estimated the height and measured the diameter of each tree in 565 forest patches. This process was done repeatedly every few years.

The team found that for the past 30 years, the amount of CO2 absorbed by Earth’s tropical forests has been decreasing. Tropical forests are crucial in halting climate change because they act as “carbon sinks,” or natural environments that absorb CO2 from the atmosphere.

However, their CO2 absorption rate in the 2010s dropped by one-third from its rate in the 1990s. This decrease was caused by factors like deforestation and the planet’s increasing temperatures. The researchers predicted that in 10 years, the African forest will absorb 14% less CO2. Even more frighteningly, they said that trees in the Amazon forest may no longer be able to absorb CO2 by 2035.

According to researcher Simon Lewis, the decrease in CO2 absorption is likely to continue. By 2060, instead of acting as carbon sinks, tropical forests are likely to become carbon sources.

Lewis said that to save the forests, deforestation must be stopped. He added that the Earth’s climate must be stabilized by reducing or eliminating CO2 emissions. If not, it will only be a matter of time until the Earth’s trees and forests will no longer be able to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• In your opinion, should this problem be treated as a global concern? Explain.
• Do you think there is still enough time to save the forests? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• In what ways can regular citizens help lessen the impact of CO2 emissions? Discuss.
• In your opinion, is zero CO2 emissions possible? Why or why not?

Category : Science/Environment