By Stephen Leahy
Uxbridge, CANADA, Jul 21 (IPS) – Wetlands are dangerous, scientists say, in the sense that they are ticking carbon bombs best left alone. To help stave off extreme climate change, existing wetlands should be enhanced and new wetlands created so they could capture more carbon.
“Wetlands hold massive stores of carbon — about 20 percent of all terrestrial carbon stocks,” said Eugene Turner, a leading wetlands expert at Louisiana State University’s Coastal Ecology Institute.
However, wetlands, including peatlands, continue to be converted to other uses around the world, resulting in large emissions of carbon and methane, a potent greenhouse gas that has 21 times the warming impact of carbon dioxide.
By itself, climate change is already degrading wetlands, especially in the Arctic and near Arctic regions where the once permanently frozen peatlands are thawing, Turner told IPS prior to the opening of the Eighth INTECOL International Wetlands Conference in Cuiaba, Brazil on Monday.
“Researchers have been measuring huge releases of carbon and methane up there,” he said. “It’s crazy to add to that by draining or mismanaging other wetlands.” Continue reading