Cut Down the Jungles!

I sometimes like to muse that nearly all the trouble and confusion of the modern era comes from the obfuscations of nomenclature. Actually I think I heard George Carlin explains this first, but it goes something like this: it used to be swamps were for draining, until we started calling them wetlands, and now they are sacred—and don’t you are even think of draining a wetland! We used to throw our garbage into the dump, but now we call them landfills. And the “jungle” became a tropical rain forest, which are romanticized more than a Lifetime movie on steroids.

Well, maybe we should go back to calling them jungles, because as Nature news explains this week:

The monster El Niño weather pattern of 2014–16 caused tropical forests to burp up 3 billion tonnes of carbon, according to a new analysis. That’s equivalent to nearly 20% of the emissions produced during the same period by burning fossil fuels and making cement. . . The overall jump in emissions from tropical forests was roughly three times the annual average carbon output from deforestation and land-use change globally between 2006 and 2015.

Wait! I thought deadly greenhouse gas emissions only came from evil tailpipes and smokestacks? Maybe we should just chop down the jungles rain forests so they don’t choke us!

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