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



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


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.



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.