The Potential Danger of Peat Moss


No- the danger does not lie in the sweet smoky flavor of an Islay single malt scotch. Instead, the danger lies in warming up what has been very cold, a very long time. Do we understand how the global environment and climate systems work? In general, we have a good broad overview and increasingly better models. But in the specifics, we are lacking the relevant detail of information needed to do the job well. Every week I read another story about how a surprised scientist finds something that has a radical or potential impact on the global climate. It is enough to make your head spin. This week, Peat Moss reared its lovely head in our direction. The warning comes from Hans K. Stenøien, Associate Professor at The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

"Peat stores one third of the global carbon reserves, and also enormous amounts of the greenhouse gas methane. If — or rather when — the average temperature on the earth rises by one centigrade, large amounts of these reserves could be released to the atmosphere. If that happens, the worst case scenario is that it no longer matters what humans do. The climatic changes may have gone out of control,"

It is certainly not the sexiest or most threatening bringer of doom I have ever seen- but I'm starting to look closer at it with suspicion. Bogs are on the rise, and when Peat Moss invades new areas, it produces such an acidic environment that other existing plants die. Not only does the acid kill the other plants, but prevents them from decomposing. Outside of the ecosystem destruction, this sounds like a great carbon sink, right? Well, only as long as the temperature does not rise too professor Stenøien tells us, if we aren't careful, we may be in for a bumpy ride. :: Innovation Report ::NUST

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