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Rain Forests: Global Warming and Food Production

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere traps heat and warms the air, just as clear glass does in the greenhouse. Scientific evidence indicates that the carbon dioxide added to the air by the burning of wood and fossil fuels is contributing to the rise in global temperature. Tropical rain forests are estimated to be responsible for more than 20% of global photosynthesis. It seems resonable to expect that the rain forests would reduce global warming by consuming large amounts of carbon dioxide, but many experts now think that rain forests make little or no net contribution to reduction of global warming. Why might this be? Hint What happens to the food produced by a rain forest tree eaten by animals or the tree dies.

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There may be several reasons why this may be true.

The food production done by rain forest vegetation feeds air-breathing animals.

These animals produce carbon dioxide as a result of their oxygen consumption. Oxygen is consumed when the body metabolizes food to convert it to sugars. As a result the consumption of the food manufactured by the rain forest contributes directly to the increase of carbon dioxide.

However, carbon dioxide is not the only greenhouse gas. Methane and other hydrocarbon gases contribute greatly to the ...

Solution Summary

In about 340 words, this solution discusses the greenhouse gas effect and its relation to different biomes and the albedo effect. Examples are provided.