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Pages 6 (1506 words)
The effect of human activity on the world's peatland ecosystems is slowly developing into what will eventually become a significant global crisis. Comprised of thick accumulations of preserved plant detritus with a dominating living plant surface layer, peatland is an extremely important economic raw material, store of carbon, and archive of environmental change.
In fact, according to Pearce in his article "Peat bogs harbour carbon time bomb," it is estimated that "the bogs of Europe, Siberia and North America hold the equivalent of 70 years of global industrial emissions" (2004). Peat forms in a low-oxygen environment that prevents the rapid decomposition of plant matter (Eslick, 2001). As a result, peat lands are not conducive to the general growth of vegetation because its "soils" are poor in nutrients. However, since "peat is a precursor to coal," it is also a significant (though much cheaper) source of energy that has for many years been exploited by man (Eslick). This exploitation has, in some cases, almost decimated the stores of peat in many parts of the world. In Ireland, for instance, 50% of raised bogs were depleted in only about 30 years, all for the purpose of extracting its stores of energy (Abbot). Another common use of peat from bogs is in improving the composition of soil in agriculture, and "Horticulturists today value Sphagnum peat for its resistance to decomposition and ability to neutralize odor" (Dente, 1997). For these reasons, peat is harvested and marketed on large scales in such countries as the United States, Ireland and Sweden. ...
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