[permaculture] BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Asian peat fires add to warming

Lawrence F. London, Jr. lfl at intrex.net
Sat Sep 3 20:46:50 EDT 2005


Last Updated: Saturday, 3 September 2005, 12:21 GMT 13:21 UK
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Asian peat fires add to warming
By Paul Rincon
BBC News science reporter

Burning peatland, RGS
The fires can rage out of control during dry periods
The destruction of tropical peatlands is contributing significantly to 
global warming, according to a study.

Peatlands in South-East Asia are being burnt in fires started with the 
intention to clear forest, but in dry periods they can rage out of control.

This can free vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, Dr 
Susan Page of Leicester University, UK, said.

The peatlands, which contain up to 21% of global land-based stores of 
carbon, could be destroyed by 2040, she added.

Where you've got large-scale drainage of the peatland and clearance of 
the forest, the peat is far more susceptible to igniting.
Dr Susan Page, University of Leicester
It has been calculated that in 1997, 2.67 billion tonnes of the 
greenhouse gas carbon dioxide were released through burning of these 
peatlands. This is equivalent to 40% of one year's global fossil fuel 
combustion, Dr Page says.

That year was unusually high, however; the intermediate estimate is one 
billion tonnes, about 15% of fossil fuel combustion for a year.

Forgotten resource

Tropical peatlands are spread across numerous islands in South-East 
Asia, including Borneo, Sumatra and Papua. The peat is found in lowland 
areas, can exceed 10m in thickness and has a high carbon content of 
about 60%.

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