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US, Norway to Fight Rapidly Progressing World Deforestation

FILE - This aerial view shows a tract of Amazon jungle recently cleared by loggers and farmers near the city of Novo Progresso, Para state, Brazil, Sept. 22, 2013.

The U.S. and Norway have agreed to work more closely together to fight deforestation and global warming, which is progressing so rapidly that every minute, forested land on Earth shrinks by an amount nearly as large as 50 football fields.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry signed a joint statement on preserving the world's forests in Oslo with Norwegian climate minister Vidar Helgesen.

"Trees, as you all know, are nature's own carbon capture-and-storage mechanism," Kerry said Thursday in Oslo.

"The way the world's forests are managed, the way the land is used, can make an enormous difference in whether we succeed in keeping the warming below 2 degrees Centigrade," Kerry said, referring to the goal set by successive U.N. climate conferences to keep the rise in average annual global temperatures to within 2 degrees C, when compared with preindustrial levels.

Most recently, the Paris climate change summit in December repeated that goal.

The destruction of forests and bad land-use decisions contribute to nearly one-fourth of the world's greenhouse-gas emissions, which scientists blame for climate change, Kerry said. He thanked the Norwegian parliament for unanimously ratifying the Paris agreement Wednesday, and predicted the U.S. Senate will soon follow that course.

One need not be a scientist to draw rational conclusions about the dangers of climate change, Kerry said. He pointed to such clear signs as stronger and more frequent hurricanes and typhoons, melting glacier ice and large wildfires, such as the one burning in Alberta, Canada.

Kerry said the solution to climate change is what he calls clean, alternative, renewable energy sources.