ON THE FIFTH DAY OF PEATMAS, THE PLANTATION GAVE TO ME
5 HUNDRED AND 50 GIGATONS OF CARBON
Today is the technical day. You’re going to see words like “hectares” and “gigatons”and you may not want to keep reading. But stick with me. If you can make it through the next two paragraphs, you can successfully say you understand why peatlands are so valuable as a carbon sink and why it is important to NOT clear these lands to grow palm oil.
But first things first: What is a Carbon Sink?
Carbon-Sink [kahr-buh n – singk] noun – A carbon sink is anything that absorbs more carbon than it releases.
Tropical peatlands are one of the Earth’s most spatially efficient carbon sinks (ie you’re getting the most bang for your buck). What this means is that if you’re looking for a long-term storage place for CO2 (yup THAT gas that we associate with global warming), peatland is your go to.
While peatland forests cover only 3% of the world’s surface, they store 550 (the magic number of the day) Gigatons (Gt) of carbon in their peat. This is TWICE the amount of carbon stored in forests! BUT, when peatlands are cleared for other land uses – they’re responsible for 2000 million tons of carbon emitted annually which is the same as 8% of ALL the global fossil fuel emissions!
When you reduce the size and/or number of sinks – ie burn peatlands and cut down forests– then you are allowing more carbon dioxide to remain in the atmosphere, which traps more heat there — causing global warming/climate change /we don’t care what you want to call it/extreme weather events like this.