Protecting Peat Bogs Can Avert Global Warming Effects

by Anshul Dash

According to European researchers, preserving and restoring peat bogs is crucial in combatting climate change.

These researchers recently conducted a study of the peat bogs at the molecular level. They discovered that wetlands contain carbon in the form of vegetation that is decaying. This vegetation has been building up over centuries, which is why there are large amounts of carbon in these wetlands. Peat bogs can help to achieve climate change goals set out by the Paris Agreement. One of those goals was to limit industrial warming to 2º C. Without guaranteed protection of these bogs, however, reaching these goals will be extremely difficult.

There are peat bogs all over the world. Although peat bogs make up just 3 percent of the Earth’s landmass, their inner layers have twice as much carbon as the biggest forests. The carbon is intact and wet in moisturized bogs, but it starts to oxidize when these bogs are dry. As a result, carbon dioxide is formed and released, aggravating the effects of global warming. Scientists have stated that current estimates of carbon dioxide emissions from peat bogs match that of global air travel emissions. This emission process can also be accelerated due to fires, thus playing a huge risk to global warming.

Dry peat bogs can be restored through the addition of water, which moisturizes the bogs. The decaying vegetation will then be saturated, preventing the carbon from oxidizing. This can also prevent the bogs from catching on fire since they’re damp from the water. Scientists have predicted that most counter-climate change pathways, such as agriculture and forests, store more carbon than the amount released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, thus slowing the effects and process of global warming. Scientists also calculate that protecting wet peat bogs and moisturizing 60 percent of the dry ones will help with this process.

There have been many conservational efforts to protect peat bogs because of their role in climate change. If left to degrade and dry up, peat bogs can work against our favor and accelerate the effects of climate change. However, through simple acts such as adding water to these bogs and protecting them, climate change can be mitigated to a huge extent.