Deforestation is one of the direst ecological situations facing our entire planet. On the one hand, we are destroying the habitats of several species that are under threat of being endangered. Orangutans, for example, have had their ecosystems devastated in the pursuit of palm oil plantations. Vast swathes of forestry in Southeast Asia have been wiped out for this purpose, and have put Orangutans on the verge of being extinct in the wild.
Of course, Norway doesn’t have an indigenous Orangutan population, so why the rush to prevent deforestation? The reason is to limit the carbon dioxide that is threatening to heat our planet up irreversibly, the process of which is colloquially known as ‘global warming.’ Plant life absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen, so, therefore, the fewer forests there are, the more carbon dioxide levels shall rise and our planet shall subsequently heat up.
Norway is an outlier when it comes to taking action on this issue. The primary reasons why other countries are reluctant to enter into anti-deforestation agreements are based in being unwilling or unable to establish supply chains for materials received through deforestation, or fear a potential diplomatic incident if they decide to force the issue on countries that rely on deforestation enterprises to keep their economy afloat. Of course, if more countries join up with Norway on this matter, then the economic argument will eventually dissolve away.
Despite paying lip service to stopping deforestation and attempting to save the planet from global warming, countries like the United Kingdom and Germany have been entirely reluctant to make any similar commitments. Norway is not content with this and is instead picking up the slack through several funds to deter certain countries away from deforestation. Brazil alone has taken up to $1 Billion in payments to slow down the deforestation of its tropical rainforest.
Some say these actions are the result of a guilty conscience on Norway’s part. The country is immensely oil and gas rich, and has made Billions and Billions out of dirty fuels that have helped accelerate pollution and global warming, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. While Norway has its critics and plenty of cries of hypocrisy, it is at least making the actions to try lessening the impact of carbon dioxide on our environment. They aim to go even further by making electric cars the standard in Norway within the next decade.
Although the criticisms of Norway are valid, you have to look at the bigger picture to understand the context of their actions. When many large, developed nations are sitting on their laurels on the issue of climate change, Norway is at least taking the small steps to become a green nation gradually. It was never going to be change that could happen overnight, and even the most ardent eco-warrior should know this.
Worryingly, a country that seemed poised to take the reigns on the issue of climate change and become a leading force in developing and implementing the technology for green energy was the United States, until the Trump Presidency became a reality. Donald Trump has called climate change a conspiracy made up by the Chinese to ruin the American economy. Ironically enough, China has suffered greatly from pollution and climate change, and has made some very rapid policy decisions regarding protecting their environment and is the current leader on renewable energy.
As you can tell by now, deforestation is only part of the equation when it comes to protecting the planet from climate change, but it is an important one. The keywords you are going to hear in the future on environmental issues are “sustainable,” “renewable,” and “alternative.” It has become apparent our industrial revolution ways are harmful to the planet, and that we have held onto them for far too long. Vested interested and big fuel companies have strong-armed, bribed, and blackmailed officials, legislators, and politicians into preserving their industry.
The fight for the future is real, but unfortunately, it seems to be amongst ourselves despite very clear evidence that our established ways of getting energy and resources are ruining the planet we live on. This is not an issue that will stop at a border, and it will affect every single one of us in some way or another. Norway’s contribution may be a small one when viewed in isolation, but it is one that can potentially get the ball rolling for other countries to make the same decision and protect the planet from further deforestation.