Michael Shellenberger: "Against the picture painted by celebrities and the mainstream media that fires around the world are caused by economic growth, the truth is the opposite: the amount of land being burned is declining thanks to development, including urbanization. That's because the amount of land being converted into ranches and farms has been going down, not up, and because more of it is being done with machines than with fire. For the last 35 years, the world has been re-foresting, meaning new tree growth has exceeded deforestation. The area of the Earth covered with forest has increased by an area the size of Texas and Alaska combined.
Less land is being converted into agriculture globally in part because farmers are growing more food on less land. Much of the re-forestation is occurring in deserts and tundra that had been barren, thanks to human-led reforestation initiatives, such as in China and Africa, and because of global warming. Warmer temperatures are what have allowed forests to grow in tundra.
"The wealthy countries hold big speeches on the need to avoid deforestation but they already deforested everything. "Few countries have the moral authority to talk about deforestation with Brazil." - Luis Inácio "Lula" da Silva (2007)
In 2016, the Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen flew over the Amazon forest with the head of Greenpeace Brazil as part of a National Geographic series called “Years of Living Dangerously.” She is horrified by what comes next. Down below her are fragments of forest next to cattle ranches. “All these large geometric shapes carved into the landscape are because of cattle?” “Everything starts with logging roads,” Adario explains. “The road stays and cattle rancher comes and cuts the remaining trees.” “And the cattle is not even natural to the Amazon!” says Bündchen. “It is not even supposed to be here!” “No, definitely not,” confirms Adario. “Imagine the destruction of this beautiful forest to produce cattle,” he says. “When you eat a burger you realize your burger is coming from rainforest destruction.” Bündchen starts to cry. “It’s shocking isn’t it?” says Adario.
But is it, really? If it is, does that mean Bündchen cries even harder when she flies over France and Germany? After all, those two countries deforested their landscapes centuries ago and all that’s left are cattle ranches and farms with far fewer protected areas and far smaller fragments of forest than the ones Bündchen looked down upon in the Amazon. Germans produce four times more carbon emissions per capita, including by burning biomass, than do Brazilians, and yet they don’t hesitate to lecture Brazilians about the need to stop deforesting and stop the fires"