BOGS, mires, marshes, swamps, fens and quagmires--whatever they are called, and wherever they are found, peaty wetlands emit about 1.3 billion tonnes of CO2 a year as a result of human activity that drains them and thus exposes them to the oxidative effect of the atmosphere. Nor does this figure include the effect of fire on dried-up bogs. That can double the amount of CO2 released in a year, in those places it affects.
That, at least, is the conclusion of a report published by Wetlands International, a lobby group, at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting being held in Barcelona this week. Hans Joosten of the University of Greifswald, in Germany, who is one of the report's authors, said that although drained peat occupies a mere 0.3% of the world's land surface, it is responsible, in total, for 6% of man-made CO2 emissions.
The report also apportions blame. Top of the list, by a long way, is Indonesia--which emits 500m tonnes of ...