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Heroes

8 years ago Norway gave Brazil $1 billion. Here's how they used it to save the rainforest.

Rainforests are f***ing amazing.

They look cool, they sound cool, they even smell amazing. Like a combination of roses and fresh-cut grass. No, seriously, I spent the night in a rainforest once, and I swear the air smelled like sugar and hugs.


Plus mornings look like this. Photo by me.

Rainforests also do incredible things for the climate.

They're natural carbon filters. All that nature packed into one area basically makes them giant CO2 vacuums that pump out fresh oxygen.

When it comes to clean, breathable air, rainforests have our backs.

Unfortunately, deforestation all over the world threatens to make rainforests a thing of the past.

According to National Geographic, at the current rate of deforestation, rainforests will disappear completely within a hundred years. Which would be terrible for a lot of reasons.

Deforestation in northern Brazil. Photo by Yasuyoshi Chiba/Getty Images.

It would hurt the environment, it could wipe out the homes of millions of animals, and it would definitely make the world a less awesome place.

The biggest rainforest in the world is the Amazon, and it's been shrinking scarily fast.

From 1970 to 2015, the Amazon lost 768,935 square kilometers (296,887 square miles) of forest — about the size of Turkey. The worst year for Amazon deforestation was 2004, when 27,000 square kilometers of forest was lost.


Time-lapse of deforestation in the state of Rondônia in Brazil from 2000 to 2010. GIF via NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center.

Overall, deforestation has slowed, but a lot of work needs to be done to slow it further. Luckily, Brazil, which hosts about 60% of the Amazon rainforest, got some help.

Back in 2008, Norway pledged $1 billion to Brazil's Amazon protection fund to help it fight deforestation.

"We support Brazil's government and its efforts to preserve the forest and stop deforestation," said then-Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

The funds were to extend through 2015 on the condition that Brazil provide definitive proof that deforestation was being reduced. It was a worthy challenge and an incredible call to action from a country on the other side of the world.


The Amazon River in Brazil. Photo by Christophe Simon/Getty Images.

The best part is...

Brazil crushed it.

In the seven years since the pledge, Brazil managed to reduce deforestation by a stunning 75%, which translates to about 33,000 square miles of forest saved and 3.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide kept out of the atmosphere. According to National Geographic, that's three times bigger than the effect of taking all the cars in the U.S. off the road for a year.

So yeah. Ca-rushed it.

Norway applauded Brazil's absolute home run and paid up the final $100 million in September, with Norwegian Climate and Environment Minister Tine Sundtoft saying "Brazil has established what has become a model for other national climate change funds."

Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images.

Brazil plans to continue its work and has even pledged to eliminate deforestation completely by 2030.

It's going to take the whole world coming together to fight climate change effectively.

Brazil stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park with the help of a country that is over 6,000 miles away and doesn't have an inch of the Amazon on its soil. But Norway knows we're all on this planet together.

Photo by Jerome Vallette/Getty Images.

"This is an outstanding example of the kind of international collaboration we need to ensure the future sustainability of our planet," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said of the Brazilian deal.

It's the type of international cooperation I know I'd like to see more of. Norway saw an opportunity to help — not themselves, but the whole world. And they helped Brazil do something amazing.

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