Because of the accelerated climate change caused by large amounts of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, many places in the western hemisphere, including Lubbock, could be impacted in different ways.
Deforestation has had many immediate effects on cities in Brazil, such as Sao Paolo, including smoke clouding the skies, Xiaopeng Song, assistant professor in the Tech Department of Geosciences, said. There will likely be no direct and immediate impact on Lubbock by the smoke and carbon dioxide released by the fires, but on a global scale, climate change will speed up and will indirectly affect Lubbock in the long-term.
“The impact reaches everyone in the world,” Song said.
Linda Lee Jones, geography instructor, said she has similar opinions regarding the possible outcomes of the Amazon deforestation.
“Anything that tips the balance to make climate change occur more quickly is a problem,” Jones said.
Climate change sped up by deforestation could also lead to a decrease in precipitation in North America, worsening the effects of droughts, which could affect the Lubbock area in the future, Song said. Extreme weather events could also become more severe and more frequent in the future because of climate change and a greater variability in the climates, which fosters extreme weather events.
“Summertime precipitation may be reduced; the climate variability is going to become larger,” Song said. “What that means is like the extreme weather events may become more frequent.”
Tech has taken on the challenge of becoming the leading research institution on drought and water, largely because Lubbock residents are in an area that is prone to drought, Jones said. The research being conducted at Tech will hopefully lead to changes in agricultural irrigation and water management, which will help the people living in West Texas to cope with a lack of water in a possible drought-stricken future.
“Our responsibility as a university is to do research that will help this region adjust and adapt,” Song said.
Morgan Atkins, a biology major from Artesia, New Mexico, said she is concerned with the fires and their possible impacts on Lubbock as well.
“The devastation of the future is exceedingly concerning, particularly when the implications of severe droughts and weather would have such a large impact on the Lubbock community,” she said.
Although she is concerned with the potential environmental impacts, Atkins said she trusts Tech to start finding solutions sooner rather than later.
“Tech is constantly innovating and advancing society as we know it today,” Atkins said.