Indonesian Peat Burning Emits 1/7th of Global CO2

The intentional burning of peat bogs was apparently once common enough in Europe to warrant this woodcut. Contemporary peat bog burning in Indonesia far exceeds it, however. Though the headline feels awful, because at first glance it makes us feel powerless to help overcome, positive action to mitigate might be close at hand. If your mental model is such that "driving a hybrid car is fine, but I can't afford custom designed furniture", you could be overlooking the most cost effective way there is to fight climate change. Just skip the "Teak Special" outlet with the lovely hand made pieces...might be better advertised as "clearcut special"... and look for something made using FSC certified wood. TreeHugger has a ton of product listings you can get to by searching on FSC. Bamboo is good too. Learn about the climate connection below the fold.From the September 5, 2005, Daily Telegraph, "Burning peat bogs set alight by rainforest clearance in Indonesia are releasing up to a seventh of the world's total fossil fuel emissions in a single year, the geographers' conference heard yesterday....The carbon stored in the peat, formed by trees growing over 26,000 years ago, is 10 times greater than the carbon stored in the forest growing on top, making it a priority for the international community to stop them burning....The peatlands burn each year during the dry season as farmers clear land, and once lit are hard to extinguish...At the current rate of burning the peatlands could be destroyed before 2040, she told the Royal Geographical Society's annual international conference in London".

According to the International Peatland Society, Indonesian peatlands are by far the most extensive in the tropical zone and rank as the fourth largest in the world. Well...they used to anyhow.

The clear-cutting of tropical rainforests typically begins with construction of logging roads in formerly inaccessible territory. Loggers are followed by farmers setting fire to the stumps and smaller trees, to create rice and palm oil plantations of low productivity. It's a land rush driven initially by the economics of timber export to the markets of developed nations. That's the climate connection you can sit on.


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