Sunday, February 28, 2016

Is Carbon Sequestration by protected areas to decrease significantly?


                                                     Comments due by March 6 , 2016
 Protected areas such as rainforests occupy more than one-tenth of the Earth’s landscape, and provide invaluable ecosystem services, from erosion control to pollination to biodiversity preservation. They also draw heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and store it in plants and soil through photosynthesis, yielding a net cooling effect on the planet.
Determining the role protected areas play as carbon sinks — now and in decades to come — is a topic of intense interest to the climate-policy community as it seeks science-based strategies to mitigate climate change. Toward that end, a study in the journal Ambio estimates for the first time the amount of CO2 sequestered by protected areas, both at present and throughout the 21st century as projected under various climate and land-use scenarios.
Based on their models and assuming a business-as-usual climate scenario, the researchers projected that the annual carbon sequestration rate in protected areas will decline by about 40 percent between now and 2100. Moreover, if about one-third of protected land is converted to other uses by that time, due to population and economic pressures, carbon sequestration in the remaining protected areas will become negligible. 
“Our study highlights the importance of protected areas in slowing the rate of climate change by pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and sequestering it in plants and soils, especially in forested areas,” said Jerry Melillo, the study’s lead author. Melillo is a distinguished scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and former director of the MBL’s Ecosystems Center. “Maintaining existing protected areas, enlarging them and adding new ones over this century are important ways we can manage the global landscape to help mitigate climate change.”
Based on a global database of protected areas, a reconstruction of global land-use history, and a global biogeochemistry model, the researchers estimated that protected areas currently sequester 0.5 petagrams (500 billion kilograms) of carbon each year, or about 20 percent of the carbon sequestered by all land ecosystems annually. Using an integrated modeling framework developed by the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, they projected that under a rapid climate-change scenario that extends existing climate policies; keeps protected areas off-limits to development; and assumes continued economic growth and a 1 percent annual increase in agricultural productivity, the annual carbon sequestration rate in protected areas would fall to about 0.3 petagrams of carbon by 2100.
When they ran the same scenario but allowed for possible development of protected areas, they projected that more than one-third of today’s protected areas would be converted to other uses. This would reduce carbon sequestration in the remaining protected areas to near zero by the end of the century. (The protected areas that are not converted would be the more marginal systems that have low productivity, and thus low capacity to sequester carbon.)
Based on this analysis, the researchers concluded that unless current protected areas are preserved and expanded, their capacity to sequester carbon will decline. The need for expansion is driven by climate change: As the average global temperature rises, so, too, will plant and soil respiration in protected and unprotected areas alike, thereby reducing their ability to store carbon and cool the planet.
“This work shows the need for sufficient resources dedicated to actually prevent encroachment of human activity into protected areas,” said John Reilly, one of the study’s coauthors and the co-director of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.
The study was supported by the David and Lucille Packard foundation, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Energy. 

19 comments:

Micah Steele said...

It would seem to me that carbon sequestration through biological filtering would have a direct Impact on food production to an already over populated planet. considering that it would take a continued expansion of protected lands to achieve acceptable levels of co2 sequestration The lack of space to feed the 1 to 2 billion of the planets inhabitants that are not consuming proper nutrients will continue to suffer. if we approach the problem of climate change through these means we are essentially creating a continuing problem with space for providing food to an already unsustainable situation. Geological co2 sequestration is being explored but the effects of this new approach is largely unknown. Personally I think this option sets up a dangerous precedent which will discourages behavior modification which is the fundamental reason the planets resources are being depleted.

Rowan Lanning said...

This is the kind of stuff that terrifies me. The science is here, now, and very real, and yet people are still either ignorant or ignoring the information they have to satisfy their own greed. This article makes me want a solution, although there isn't really one that comes to mind. With the bureaucratic methods of government not providing the quick solution that we need, what else can be done in order to expand these protected areas and make sure that nobody is promoting their degradation, legally or illegally? With the population growing exponentially, we need more and more land to put all these new people, but without the decline and stability of a population, how can we hope to set aside more land for generations to come?

Anonymous said...

This study (among others) indicates a clear need for the nations of the world to come together and tackle issues like this. With this one in particular, perhaps one solution is creating "international parks" - areas recognized by scientists as "carbon critical" that need to be preserved to maintain their effectiveness as a carbon sink. We already do this on a national scale across the world, to varying degrees of success - but we can do better. Of course, host nations would be hesitant. Brazil for example wants to exploit resources and utilize the soil under the rainforest for farming or ranching. Incentives would need to be offered to host nations, and nations all across the world would need to help pay for such international parks. The host nations could host tourism in select parts of the preserve.

Obviously this would need to be done in conjunction with other measures - controlling for population increase and ensuring we have proper amounts of sustainably grown food that is evenly distributed.

Carl Wojciechowski

Anonymous said...

It is pretty amazing how something so important is treated the way it is. This article is talking about carbon dioxide and oxygen through the rain forest, and some of the dates mentioned in the article may come faster than people think at the rate the world is going. I feel that there needs to be better protection for the rain forest and maybe even try and regrown trees and habits for the animals there. But, this is not a new issue and probably will not go away. Overall these issues need to be made more public and possible have multiple groups or countries work top help the issue.

-Andy Ponticiello

Kaitlynn Brady said...

It's easy to overlook the importance of our vegetation when we are exploiting and commodifying it for profit. The reality is that if we are going to be admitting more and more carbon dioxide into the environment due to our over population and our waste, the protection of these lands is absolutely critical to our survival. Not only have we increased CO2 emissions, we are also destroying the land that contains the natural processes to remove our waste from the air. This is only going to lead to more destruction at a faster pace. It is essential to address the first issue and what I believe to be the root cause of our environmental degradation, which is overpopulation. Our planet has surpassed its carrying capacity and will soon run out of land to feed the over abundance of people, resulting in the need to destroy essential land, such as rainforests, to be converted into cash crops and cattle farms.

-Kaitlynn Brady

Grace Florian said...

This study having to do with Carbon Sequestering proves many things. Not only is it crucial that we sustain the vegetation, forests, etc. that we have, but it is also going to be necessary that we expand these types of environments. It is not simply enough to try to save what we have left after destroying much of these ecosystems, but it is more important to acknowledge the fact that we must build back what we have destroyed. This is not an easy task seeing as though the population of this planet is not going to stop growing and the pressures for more land, food, and other necessities for growth are simply going to keep increasing but this is what needs to happen. There needs to be an effort to continuously be conscious of saving what we have left but also creating more of these environments no matter how much we claim to "need" the land for other purposes.

Megan Brown said...

This study really started to remind me of how little idea the population has about vegetation issues. This study with Carbon Sequestering proves so many different things. It is a very important and needed way that we need to sustain the environment we live in. We, as a population, need to start realizing what is happening before we ruin the ecosystem that we have left. This has been a huge issue in society, the lack of knowledge about the issue and pure ignorance about how we can fix this. If this continues, as the article say, the world will not be able to survive.

Christina Marciante said...

I think it's crazy that people are willing to destroy the last bits of natural forests and land that we have. We have abused the Earth so much. It is time for us to be rebuilding forests and to at least protect what little is left. At the rate of carbon we create, we need to keep vegetation. If we were to cut down all of the forests we have left, who knows what the effects will be. There are so many people who just don't care about the environment. They will intentionally leave lights on or waste water because they don't care that it will effect the future generations. In my old science classes, the teacher would always show decreases in land over the years, the projection of what places will go completely underwater if sea levels kept rising, and the floating trash island in the ocean. Few people in the class would care and hardly anybody in the class would change even the smallest habits of theirs. We need to raise young kids up into caring about the environment.

-Christina Marciante

SUET SZE AU said...

Written by SUET SZE AU

In recent decades, climate change has become a serious issue for all the countries in the world. Facing the unusual increase in global temperature and extreme weather, different countries are now looking for solutions to alleviate the problem. We all know that plants can sequester carbon dioxide in atmosphere through photosynthesis and lessen the negative effects of climate change. However, due to the rapid development of cities, lots of trees were cut to provide wood or build roads, houses. In future time, rainforests may even be destroyed. By then, human will not be able to control the huge amount of carbon dioxide in the air. Therefore, different countries should protect the rainforests, trees, plants etc and even try to enlarge these protected areas in order to deal with climate change problem.

Anthony Jones said...

This valuation of the benefits that ecosystems provide is known as ecosystem services. These services have been grouped into four categories: provisioning, such as the production of food and water; regulating, such as the control of climate and disease; supporting, such as nutrient cycles and crop pollination; and cultural, such as spiritual and recreational benefits.

Places such as the Amazon Rainforest, serve as spaces to play in as well as to pray in. Spaces like these not only increase the ecological richness of our Earth but also preserve our fragile yet vast ecological heritage. The Earth gives us many gifts whose true values can never be assigned a dollar amount. Trees sequester carbon, filter runoff, hold soil together, provide shade, coverage and food for all. If these services and the multitude of others continue to go unacknowledged and without respect, we will truly find ourselves facing a climate crisis. We mustn’t think of ourselves as apart from Nature but as a part of it. As we face crises amidst our current climate challenge, we must think and act like a keystone species, whose existence is critical in maintaining the balance of our biosphere. As such, we should extend the range of protected areas, ensuring that these important places hold precedent over economic and population pressures. This is the only way we can repair our Earth.

Brian Frank said...

The Earth lets us have the ability to maintain life and we should do everything that we can to ensure the earth will live on as well. The protected areas help reduce the CO2 and help prevent the destruction of the Ozone that is caused by the excess of CO2. I definitely agree with the idea of expanded our protected areas because we already need to start reversing the bad effects of climate change. With climate change comes global warning and rising sea levels and if we lose a majority of our protected forests the soils will be released due to deforestation and allow for sea levels to more readily rise. Also if the protected areas are expanded we have the able to strengthed biodiversity in our ecosystems and ensure the survival of many of species that we have personally endangered. We have cause much of the deteriation of our planet and it should be our concern to ensure Earth reamins a habitable planet.
-Brian Frank

Ralph Green said...

Why is it that we live in a world that does not see the consequence of taking and taking until there is nothing left? There are people who see this but obviously it is not enough. We have to replace every single piece that we take, like how does the Earth cycle carbon? Everyone knows or should at least know that answer, which is through vegetation aka trees. Even here at school its bad like they'll constantly use electricity or water and their excuse will be oh I'm not paying for it, but in term you are, you're paying with your home, Earth. And then people are ignorant to climate change, it's real like when Leonardo DiCaprio gave his speech at the oscars he wasn't crazy he was telling the truth. People need to be more aware of what were doing, not even that they just need to actually care at least a little bit and that can make all the difference.

Johnny Lopez said...

Like Ralph stated, I do not understand people's decision to use resources until there is nothing left. Keeping carbon trapped in our atmosphere is incredibly dangerous and has unforeseen consequences. I am not sure if people are consciously ignoring the research done or are not exposed to it, but I believe it is time for government officials to take a strong stance on carbon emissions. It is bothersome to me when I see the Republican nominees bicker about nonsense instead of focusing on real issues like climate change. I think part of the reason we have become consumed in a high-paced economic society involves our dissociation with nature. It is unfortunate because we cannot learn to cherish something until we realize how much we need it to survive.

Anonymous said...

It is powerful to be given examples of what it may be like in the near future. It seems as though this is common nowadays. When the article refers to 2100 or even 2050 it is undoubtedly unsettling to realize the extent of change we must undergo to secure a future. The article suggests that we are nearing a catastrophe unless our society changes its current methods of existence. Even if “we” were to start improving our way of life in the ways the article mentions, “we” would still be near catastrophe for some time to come. Sadly, we are arguably not close to a state of improvement. This is to say unless, our culture, along with all others, doesn’t miraculously undergo a “Paradigm Shift” in congruence with each other. If this does occur then it would arguably be the first time the human race has done something in harmony. I am going to err on the side of optimism.

C.H.

Rebecca McMann said...

More people need to be aware of what is happening. Everyone knows about the rainforests and that devastation occurs, but not as many, even a fraction know the toll it's truly takes. Anybody can say there's fire station and show you a few pictures but it takes more. People need to be educated on these cases. Nobody is gonna care if they are shown one video in passing during school and see no trouble on their current lives. The consequences of letting the destruction continue are uncomprihendale to someone who has no idea how intricate the systems are and how one screw up can completely destroy the entire ecosystem, everything is interconnected and so when one piece of the puzzle is destroyed then the entire board is thrown of course. Terrible conclusions are the only option since we have locked ourselves into this vortex, but if learning about these problems became part of a core curriculum then we could raise a new generation, a continued generation of people minds flourished with ideas of how to limit the intensity of the negative outcomes to follow the human races behavior. Keeping the carbon trapped is a horrid idea, and so much of what people are allowing is ridiculous, but by not educating we allow this to happen. Those who sit by and let occur are just as bad as those who decide to continue on a path of destruction.

Rebecca McMann

Jessica Crotty said...

After reading this article it is clear to me that not enough of the population actually knows what is going on. They do not realize how bad the planet is becoming, and although we have the resources to fix something, we are not using it. The people inhabiting this planet need to become aware of what needs to happen for us to have a secure future living on this planet. As we are know, the planet is not going to survive for as long as most people believe. Everyone knows generally what is going on, they know that there are problems that need to be fixed. But they need to know more than just the general information. They need to know the consequences of what they are doing, and be given the knowledge to change it. The population needs to realize what is happening before the ecosystem is truly ruined, and be given the knowledge to fix it.

Fatimah M. said...

This article definitely scares me because it's so horrifying to read. People are so blind to what is happening in the world. I know people are aware of Pollution, but they don't know the different types of pollution that is happening right at this moment. The sentence that bothered me the most was "As the average global temperature rises, so, too, will plant and soil respiration in protected and unprotected areas alike, thereby reducing their ability to store carbon and cool the planet." Pollution is not a joke, it is something that needs to be handled. In order to be handled, we have to realize this problem as a whole and work together to cut down on some actions.

Erika Anzalone said...

Humans deplete natural resources without thinking further into the future. How will deforestation effect our future generations and life to come? Deforestation is a major issue that is not addressed enough to the common people. Trees and shrubbery are cut down for industrialization or urbanization sequentially depleting our environment. This leads to less carbon dioxide being converted into oxygen for use into the environment. This access of CO2 in our environment is leading to many devastating repercussions which cannot be reversed like global warming and fossil fuels being burned into our environment. People do not realize that their actions create a footprint in our growing world.

-Erika Anzalone

Ariana Pdlla said...

It is truly incredible how important areas such as rainforests are to the ecosystem. They have incredible uses such as: providing the ecosystem with various services, controlling erosion, providing pollination, biodiversity preservation, and etc. How can we be aware of the uses and importance of rainforests and continue to damage and mistreat them. As stated in the article, determining the role in protected areas is an intense topic discuses lately. Due to climate change the carbon sequestration rate in protected areas will decline by at least 40 percent between now and 2100. This is truly detrimental to our earth. Rainforests provide more than we realize and it is important for our society to work towards maintaining the rainforests that currently exist, enlarge them as much as possible, and manage global landscape to help mitigate climate change. Although climate change is a major issue in to pinpoint in the span of all this, different practices such as forestry, agriculture, and tourism is to blame as well. The most important step in this situation for humans is to act NOW. Taking care of forests by planting new trees, managing land, and adapting to changes in climatic conditions will effectively change the way that rainforests are being affected.