The opening quotation comes from David Quammen's Wild Thoughts from Wild Places (New York: Scribner, 1998).
Loss of Local Climate Regulation
The U.N. FAO (State of the World's Forest 1997 (SOFO)) provides statistics revealing the high deforestation rates of tropical montane forest during then 1980s.
According to Salati, E. and Nobre, C.A ("Possible climatic impacts of tropical deforestation," in Tropical Forests and Climate, ed N. Myers., Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1992) 50-80% of the moisture in the central and western Amazon is recycled.
Myers, N. in "The world's forests and their ecosystem services," in Nature's Services: Societal Dependence on Natural Ecosystems, ed G.C. Daily, Washington D.C.: Island Press, 1997 explains how moisture is transpired by plants and evaporated back into the atmosphere to form rain clouds.
A. Gioda reviews the importance of water throughout history in "A Short History of Water" Nature & Resources, Vol. 35, No. 1, Jan-Mar 1999.
Szollosi-Nagy, A., Najlis, P., and Bjorklund, G breadown the availability of global freshwater resources in "Assessing the world's freshwater resources," Nature & Resources, Vol. 34, No. 1, Jan-Mar 1998.
Albor, T. reported on severe flooding in the Philippines resulting from deforestation ("Illegal Logging blamed for Philippine Flood Toll," Christian Science Monitor 11/12/91).
Pearce attributes declining rainfall in interior West African countries to coastal forest loss (Pearce, F., "Lost Forests Leave West Africa Dry," The New Scientist 1-18-97.).
Vegetation change caused by ancient human agricultural fires may have impacted precipitation patterns in the Austalian outback according to Cowen, R. ("If You Don't Spare the Tree, You May Spoil More Than the Jungle," Christian Science Monitor. 1/13/98) and Johnson, B.J. et aL. ("65,000 years of vegetational change in central Australia and the Australian summer monsoon," Science Vol. 284, No 5417 (1150-1152), 14-May-1999).
In his article "Escaping Nature's Wrath" in the Chronicle Foreign Service (1998), P. Grunson discusses the role of environmental degradation on damage inflicted by Hurricane Mitch.
In his book, Ultimate Security: The Environmental Basis of Political Stability (Washington, D.C.: Island Press. 1996), Norman Myers discusses the importance of environmental stability in maintaining social and policial stability. He indicates that shrinking water supplies will have important political raminfications in the near future.
The decline of Colombia's freshwater resources is mentioned in Inter Press Service (IPS), "Environment-Colombia: Garbage, Guerrillas and Animal Smugglers" 1/7/98.
N. Myers brings up the concern that widespread deforestation could trigger a positive-feedback process of increasing dessication for neighboring forest cover in "The world's forests and their ecosystem services" in Nature's Services: Societal Dependence on Natural Ecosystems, ed G.C. Daily, Washington D.C.: Island Press, 1997.
At the 1998 global climate treaty conference in Buenos Aires, the Nautral Environment Research Coucil of the UK released a study forcasting the conversion of 2.8 million square kilometers of the Amazon rainforest to desert resulting from global climate change. This dire projection has been considered too extreme by many climate researchers since its release. Nevertheless the story was picked up by McCarthy, M. in "Amazon forest 'will be dead in 50 years'" The Independent. 11/11/98.
In its RisQue98 (Risco de Queimada, or "Risk of Burning" in Amazonia - 1998), the Woods Hole Research Center assessed the risk of forest fires and agricultural burning in Brazilian Amazonia for the second half of 1998 and found that more than 400,000 square kilometers were vulnerable.