Your Shopping Cart

It appears that your cart is currently empty!


Protecting the Carbon Sink

by Eric W |

Tropical rainforests act as what scientists call a carbon sink - one of the “natural systems that suck up and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.” Through the process of photosynthesis, plants convert CO2 and water into glucose (food for the plant) and oxygen. 

The glucose produced in this reaction contains carbon that becomes part of the plant. As the plants grow and shed leaves and branches, the organic matter degrades and becomes a part of the soil, storing carbon in the ground. Over time, forests continue to absorb CO2 from the air and deposit carbon in the soil, reducing the impact of climate change. 

As shown by the map above, the tropical rainforests of Malaysia and Indonesia store a high amount of carbon. The two countries produce 85% of the world’s palm oil, a process that eliminates millions of acres of tropical rainforests to clear land for the crops. This not only destroys the forest capable of absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide but also releases immense quantities of greenhouse gases by burning the land.

The Consequences of Climate Change

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the primary greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. As people and industries continue to emit large quantities of this gas, more heat is trapped, and temperatures rise over time. The current climate change crisis refers to the long-term increase in global temperature due to human activities. The temperature has increased by 2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880 and will continue to rise if greenhouse gas emissions remain at current levels. 

As the planet warms, NASA projects an increase in the severity and frequency of droughts, heat waves, and hurricanes. The droughts in the west will become even more severe, further impacting food and water supplies. By 2100, the rising sea levels will result in the chronic flooding of 670 coastal US cities. The impact is already apparent in communities such as New Orleans and Miami. Measures big and small can be taken to mitigate this crisis, including protecting vital carbon sinks to continue fighting climate change.

Pavan Sukhdev, “Teeb Synthesis Report 2010 - The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity,” accessed July 22, 2022,, 15.

Andrea Thompson, “What Is a Carbon Sink?,” LiveScience (Purch, December 21, 2012),

“Carbon Sources and Sinks,” National Geographic Society, accessed July 22, 2022,

Anonymous, “What Is Carbon Sequestration and How Does It Work?,” CLEAR Center, November 16, 2021,

Reuters Staff, “Indonesia, Malaysia Launch Efforts to Counter EU Palm Oil Resolution,” Reuters (Thomson Reuters, April 12, 2017),

Ananthalakshmi, “Palm Oil to Blame for 39% of Forest Loss in Borneo since 2000: Study,” Reuters (Thomson Reuters, September 19, 2019),

Selvakumar Dhandapani and Stephanie Evers, “Oil Palm 'Slash-and-Burn' Practice Increases Post-Fire Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Nutrient Concentrations in Burnt Regions of an Agricultural Tropical Peatland,” Science of The Total Environment (Elsevier, June 30, 2020),

“Overview of Greenhouse Gases,” EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), accessed July 22, 2022,

Lori Perkins, “SVS: Global Temperature Anomalies from 1880 to 2018,” NASA (NASA), accessed July 22, 2022,,gases%20caused%20by%20human%20activities%2C%20according%20to%20Schmidt.

NASA, “The Effects of Climate Change,” NASA (NASA, July 18, 2022),

Laura Parker, “Sea Level Rise Will Flood Hundreds of Cities in the near Future,” Pages (National Geographic, May 3, 2021),