The Earth's Lungs ? - Get Real...
This blog is inspired by recent world hysteria over the fact that Brazil is once again burning the Amazon forest out from under us. Panic descriptions (from countries that long ago deforested their lands) are saying that the Amazon is the "lungs of the world" and their loss will lead to our eventual demise. It's not true. Just more alarmist BS to panic the world into acting on their behalf by following their instructions on eliminating petrofuels of all kinds from out daily lives. The blog is somewhat disjointed but there is lots of data to peruse and decide for yourself if we are indeed doomed.
*WORLD STATISTICS RE: FORESTS WORLD SOUTH AMERICA
SQ. KILOMETERS SQ. KILOMETERS
FOREST AREA 2015 39,990,000 8,420,000
AREA WITH OTHER WOODED LAND 2015 12,040,000
AREAS OF OTHER LAND WITH TREE COVER 2015 2,840,000
ANNUAL REFORESTATION 2015 270,000 400,000
FOREST AREA UNDER A MANAGEMENT PLAN 2010 21,000,000
NATURAL FOREST 2015 36,950,000 8,270,000
PLANTED FOREST 2015 2,910,000 150,000
INFOREST EMPLOYMENT - MILLION PERSONS, 2010 12,700,000 NA
GROSS VALUE ADDED FROM FOREST SECTOR BILLION US $606,000,000,000 NA
WORLD LOSS OF FOREST AREA SINCE ????
*BRAZIL APPEARS TO BE TODAY'S MAJOR CULPRIT IN FOREST REMOVAL - SOME STATISTICS.
Period Estimated remaining forest cover in the Brazilian Amazon (km2) Annual fores
DATE TOTAL COVER LOSS % LEFT LOST FROM 1970
SQ. KM SQ. KM. FROM 1970 SQ. KM.
PRE 1970 4,100,000
1977 3,955,870 21,130 96.5% 144,130
1978-1987 3,744,570 21,130 91.3% 355,430
1988 3,723,520 21,050 90.8% 376,480
1989 3,705,750 17,770 90.4% 394,250
1990 3,692,020 13,730 90.0% 407,980
1991 3,680,990 11,030 89.8% 419,010
1992 3,667,204 13,786 89.4% 432,796
1993 3,652,308 14,896 89.1% 447,692
1994 3,637,412 14,896 88.7% 462,588
1995 3,608,353 29,059 88.0% 491,647
1996 3,590,192 18,161 87.6% 509,808
1997 3,576,965 13,227 87.2% 523,035
1998 3,559,582 17,383 86.8% 540,418
1999 3,542,323 17,259 86.4% 557,677
2000 3,524,097 18,226 86.0% 575,903
2001 3,505,932 18,165 85.5% 594,068
2002 3,484,281 21,651 85.0% 615,719
2003 3,458,885 25,396 84.4% 641,115
2004 3,431,113 27,772 83.7% 668,887
2005 3,412,099 19,014 83.2% 687,901
2006 3,397,814 14,285 82.9% 702,186
2007 3,386,163 11,651 82.6% 713,837
2008 3,373,252 12,911 82.3% 726,748
2009 3,365,788 7,464 82.1% 734,212
2010 3,358,788 7,000 81.9% 741,212
2011 3,352,370 6,418 81.8% 747,630
2012 3,347,799 4,571 81.7% 752,201
2013 3,341,908 5,891 81.5% 758,092
2014 3,336,896 5,012 81.4% 763,104
2015 3,330,689 6,207 81.2% 769,311
2016 3,322,796 7,893 81.0% 777,204
2017 3,315,849 6,947 80.9% 784,151
2018 3,307,949 7,900 80.7% 792,051
*MEDIA PANIC IS ON DURING JUNE, 2019 AS 70000 FIRES RAGE IN BRAZIL. CLAIMS OF "20% NATURE'S LUNGS" AND LOSS OF OXYGEN ABOUND IN EACH NEWS SEGMENT. IS IT TRUE?
Push Button below for article, or read copy of it presented below:
Amazon Wildfires Are Horrifying, But They're Not Destroying Earth's Oxygen Supply
By Scott Denning a day ago Planet Earth
Even if the entire Amazon rainforest burned down, we'd be okay.
Fires in the Amazon rainforest have captured attention worldwide in recent days. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who took office in 2019, pledged in his campaign to reduce environmental protection and increase agricultural development in the Amazon, and he appears to have followed through on that promise.
The resurgence of forest clearing in the Amazon, which had decreased more than 80% following a peak in 2004, is alarming for many reasons. Tropical forests harbor many species of plants and animals found nowhere else. They are important refuges for indigenous people, and contain enormous stores of carbon as wood and other organic matter that would otherwise contribute to the climate crisis.
Some media accounts have suggested that fires in the Amazon also threaten the atmospheric oxygen that we breathe. French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted on Aug. 22 that "the Amazon rain forest - the lungs which produces 20% of our planet's oxygen - is on fire."
The oft-repeated claim that the Amazon rainforest produces 20% of our planet's oxygen is based on a misunderstanding. In fact nearly all of Earth's breathable oxygen originated in the oceans, and there is enough of it to last for millions of years. There are many reasons to be appalled by this year's Amazon fires, but depleting Earth's oxygen supply is not one of them.
As an atmospheric scientist, much of my work focuses on exchanges of various gases between Earth's surface and the atmosphere. Many elements, including oxygen, constantly cycle between land-based ecosystems, the oceans and the atmosphere in ways that can be measured and quantified.
Nearly all free oxygen in the air is produced by plants through photosynthesis. About one-third of land photosynthesis occurs in tropical forests, the largest of which is located in the Amazon Basin.
But virtually all of the oxygen produced by photosynthesis each year is consumed by living organisms and fires. Trees constantly shed dead leaves, twigs, roots and other litter, which feeds a rich ecosystem of organisms, mostly insects and microbes. The microbes consume oxygen in that process.
Forest plants produce lots of oxygen, and forest microbes consume a lot of oxygen. As a result, net production of oxygen by forests - and indeed, all land plants - is very close to zero.
Oxygen production in the oceans
For oxygen to accumulate in the air, some of the organic matter that plants produce through photosynthesis must be removed from circulation before it can be consumed. Usually this happens when it is rapidly buried in places without oxygen - most commonly in deep sea mud, under waters that have already been depleted of oxygen.
This happens in areas of the ocean where high levels of nutrients fertilize large blooms of algae. Dead algae and other detritus sink into dark waters, where microbes feed on it. Like their counterparts on land, they consume oxygen to do this, depleting it from the water around them.
Below depths where microbes have stripped waters of oxygen, leftover organic matter falls to the ocean floor and is buried there. Oxygen that the algae produced at the surface as it grew remains in the air because it is not consumed by decomposers.
This buried plant matter at the bottom of the ocean is the source of oil and gas. A smaller amount of plant matter gets buried in oxygen-free conditions on land, mostly in peat bogs where the water table prevents microbial decomposition. This is the source material for coal.
Only a tiny fraction - perhaps 0.0001% - of global photosynthesis is diverted by burial in this way, and thus adds to atmospheric oxygen. But over millions of years, the residual oxygen left by this tiny imbalance between growth and decomposition has accumulated to form the reservoir of breathable oxygen on which all animal life depends. It has hovered around 21% of the volume of the atmosphere for millions of years.
Some of this oxygen returns to the planet's surface through chemical reactions with metals, sulfur and other compounds in Earth's crust. For example, when iron is exposed to air in the presence of water, it reacts with oxygen in the air to form iron oxide, a compound commonly known as rust. This process, which is called oxidation, helps regulate oxygen levels in the atmosphere.
Don't hold your breath
Even though plant photosynthesis is ultimately responsible for breathable oxygen, only a vanishingly tiny fraction of that plant growth actually adds to the store of oxygen in the air. Even if all organic matter on Earth were burned at once, less than 1% of the world's oxygen would be consumed.
In sum, Brazil's reversal on protecting the Amazon does not meaningfully threaten atmospheric oxygen. Even a huge increase in forest fires would produce changes in oxygen that are difficult to measure. There's enough oxygen in the air to last for millions of years, and the amount is set by geology rather than land use. The fact that this upsurge in deforestation threatens some of the most biodiverse and carbon-rich landscapes on Earth is reason enough to oppose it.
Original article published on The Conversation.
*AND YET ANOTHER ARTICLE PUTTING THE "LUNGS" CLAIM TO REST.
*AND YET ANOTHER ARTICLE PUTTING THE "LUNGS" CLAIM TO REST.
Please note: these images and the discussions surrounding them are easily found on Google. I'm not even going to attempt to make a bibliography because this isn't a scientific paper, it's an opinion piece. If you doubt me go search them out. The exercise is quite revealing.