Wetlands act as buffers between land and liquid, working like sponges to moderate flood control, water quality and coastal erosion. The peat bogs that rim the Northern hemisphere may also play a crucial role in mitigating climate change. "There are lots of intersections between global warming and wetlands," says Dan Becker, director of the Sierra Club's Global Warming and Energy Program. Fluctuating sea and lake levels could have devastating effects on the wetlands, he says, which could result in dire global consequences since wetlands are also storage tanks for carbon.
Peat bogs contain sphagnum moss, sometimes many feet thick. In the oxygen-poor environment of a bog, the moss remains stable. But when phenol oxidase goes to work breaking peat down into humus, between 20 and 75 percent of the moss's carbon mass is released as carbon dioxide. New Scientist magazine reports that the 455 billion tons of carbon buried in peat bogs worldwide would release the equivalent of 70 years of industrial emissions. Scientists disagree on whether changing water levels or pH stimulate the enzyme, but some worry that drying wetlands would belch greenhouse gases and cause temperatures to climb even higher.
Amid increasing reports that global warming is real and occurring faster than predicted, drying out wetlands seems like a step in the wrong direction.
Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!LEARN MORE
At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).
You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.