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Greenhouse gases emissions and climate change - beyond mainstream


MOJ Bioorganic & Organic Chemistry
Jüri Liiv,1,2 Ivar Zekker,1 Kaido Tämm,1 Ergo Rikmann1

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Abstract

Reactions to climate changes induced by anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHG) usually tackle emissions from fossil fuels and industrial and agricultural sources. Attempts to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy or lower the consumption of animal products per capita remain rather undetectable in consumerist daily routine. Although popular, such approaches tend to oversimplify or even ignore essential aspects of the anthropogenic carbon cycle. Drainage of wetlands for agricultural occupation is often seen as desirable, overlooking the fact that peat is the major depositor for carbon stock and carbon sink, as well for GHG emissions, which results from accelerated degradation rates. Living biomass in forests is also considered as carbon stock, due to degradation and accumulated carbon in soil over millennia. In agriculture, depletion of soil does not only mean poor harvests, but is also one of the major contributors to GHG emission. Based on the example of Estonia, a small nation in North-Eastern Europe known by its “dirty” energy sector, we show that the emission from the drained areas actually exceeds GHG release over the fossil fuels. Similarly it may occur in many countries worldwide where marshes are actively drained, permafrost is melting due to global warming, woodland clearance is widespread for agricultural or commercial purposes, or croplands are overexploited. A drastic cut in GHG emissions remains unreachable as long the society is not ready for highly unpopular political decisions.

Keywords

GHG emissions, environmentally friendly, energy sector, Scandinavia and the Pyrenees,fossil fuels, depletion of soil, CO2 takes place in a timeframe of about 100 years, global topic, forestland and agricultural use, biomass in forests, Earth's surface, vegetation on the Earth, herding in grasslands

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