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In a world like current Earth but where most of the trees and forests have been cut down, what would be the impact on the world's Atmosphere, in short and long term?

Would that make the world hotter? Would it rain more often, or less often? How would this impact the way humanity lives, could it still survive, and if so for how long?

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  • $\begingroup$ What the forests are replaced with? Badlands? Grasslands? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Dec 9, 2020 at 18:35
  • $\begingroup$ Deserts and badlands, yeah $\endgroup$
    – user81142
    Dec 9, 2020 at 20:23
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    $\begingroup$ Suprise! Earth is a world exactly like Earth where most forests have been cut down. For example, three thousand years ago, almost all of western and central Europe was a massive forest. Second surprise! Grasses are much younger than forests. Grasses only appeared in the Cretaceous; before that there were no grasslands, everything was a forest. Third surprise! Humans can and do plant trees. Humans need timber; it's both a very widely used raw material, and a very widely used construction material. Even if most of the forests were cut down, there will still be a lot of trees grown by humans. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Dec 9, 2020 at 21:02
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    $\begingroup$ What sort of Pockyclypse are you proposing? If lots of trees were cut down before, chances are good there won't be enough people around after to keep the forests from springing back. If they were cut down after, then I'd argue that there probably won't be enough people to actually do so much tree cutting damage. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Dec 14, 2020 at 2:14
  • $\begingroup$ Take a good look outside. We're only a thousand years or so into it, but this exact scenario is underway. $\endgroup$
    – Joe
    Dec 20, 2020 at 14:53

2 Answers 2

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Trees are essential for life. As mentioned here, deforestation creates many problems that make it difficult to sustain life:

Increased Carbon in atmosphere

Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Without trees, there will be more carbon dioxide leading to increased greenhouse effect.

Decrease in moisture

Leaves of trees release moisture in the atmosphere which is returned back to soil. Without trees, soil will dry and crops will grow less.

Increased temperature affects human health

The greenhouse effect and decrease in moisture causes atmospheric temperature to rise. Humans get dehydrated. Unbearable heat waves kill humans.

Decrease in oxygen

Trees release oxygen in sun light by photosynthesis. If there are no tress, oxygen supply will decrease making air almost unbreathable.

No homes for many species

Trees provide homes for many species, many of which are indirectly helpful for human health.

More flooding

Trees hold the soil together with water. Without trees, soil will erode causing flooding.

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Here is a very detailed article of what climate change will do over the next 100 years.

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2017/07/climate-change-earth-too-hot-for-humans.html

Regarding the loss of trees specifically, check out the sections of “Heat Death” and “Unbreathable Air”.

The Amazon is a perfect example. In 2010 the Amazon suffered its second major drought in a span of just five years, making it incredibly susceptible to forest fires. If the forest were to burn down it would release extremely high amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, making much of the air unbreathable. This is especially dangerous as the Amazon produces 20% of the world’s oxygen.

If you look at the combined results of climate change, a large portion of which is a direct result of CO2 emissions, we could be facing upwards of an 11-12 degree overall warming of certain areas. If this happens, at least half of the world’s population would die of direct exposure to heat.

Read on to see other effects including the end of valuable food sources, plagues being released from frozen areas (including the bubonic plague and faster moving malaria), permanent economic collapse, and even war.

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  • $\begingroup$ This seems very close to a link-only answer: can you relay the information from the article that you think is of value to the OP to your answer? $\endgroup$
    – Joachim
    Feb 10, 2022 at 8:11

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