Climate Change scientists have mapped out a 2 degree rise in temperature as a breaking point for much of the world’s ecosystems such as glaciers, changes in weather patterns such as flooding or drought, and other effects of climate change. If carbon emissions are not controlled or turned around, global temperatures will continue to rise. Temperatures have already risen 1.3 degrees since the 2 degree benchmark was adopted. The scenarios such as flooding, super storms, famine, drought, glaciers melting have occurred as predicted. An article from Rolling Stones August 2012 issue stated that at the rate carbon is being emitted into the atmosphere, the 2 degree rise in temperature will be reached in 16 years.
What is Blue Carbon?
Blue carbon is a ton of carbon emission reductions from mangroves and wetlands, (*) green carbon is a ton of carbon emission reductions from forests and other sources.
Blue carbon is a cheap and efficient way to address climate change. (*Scientific American article)
Why protect / restore mangroves?
Important Carbon Sink (*Journal.pone). Nicholas Institute of Duke University climate change scientists have estimated that the destruction of 1 hectare of mangrove releases 1,000 tons of carbon into the atmosphere if the top 1 meter of soil is disturbed by erosion or conversion into agricultural use, such as shrimp farms. Mangrove area destruction results in enormous carbon emissions. On the other hand, mangrove area protection results in avoiding the release and also absorbing 10 tons of carbon by the mangrove soil (*UNEP estimate) and 11 tons by the plant material (* FFTA’s CDM, posted in UNFCCC website) per year..
The carbon footprint of a 14 oz. shrimp cocktail, grown in a former mangrove area is higher than the carbon footprint of an acre of Amazon forest that has been cleared and used for cattle raising, including the manure of the cattle for a year. (*Shrimp analogy article)
Preserving mangroves as a carbon sink presents a long term climate change solution. It is much more important that decreasing emissions on a year to year basis. We should all try to reduce our carbon footprint, that is important. But we should prioritize saving and restoring mangrove areas, the most efficient carbon sink.
It doesn’t happen overnight. Restoring mangrove cover is like pushing a rock uphill. Denuded mangrove areas are now open to the elements such as tidal surges and erosion and we must expect a low replanting rate. However, we look forward to achieving a critical mass of replanting when our mangrove areas can be self-sustaining and even expanding naturally!
Mangroves are nature’s barriers to flooding and tidal surges. The destruction of mangroves has resulted in natural hazards, flooding and deaths. (*) Millions of people are at risk now!