Today’s today’s headline in the Nat’l Geographic site is:

Belching British Bogs Fueled Ancient Global Warming

Yup…bogs are full of rotting vegetation, and rotting vegetation produces (TA DAAAH!) METHANE….a greenhouse gas worse than Carbon dioxide.

Huge belches of methane from bogs in what is now Britain likely contributed to global warming some 55 million years ago, a new study says…
Warm, wet weather likely accelerated the rotting of plant material, which in turn triggered the methane burps from the Cobham Lignite bog, the researchers said.
Assuming that other wetlands responded in a similar way, such large amounts of methane could explain the extreme global warming seen at the time.
This seems to be bad news for all those people trying to save “The wetlands”.

Save the wetlands, increase global warming? Nah, doesn’t sound like a good slogan.

Some of us try to live simply and see the need to control environmental degradation without making people poor as a side effect. And some of us actually believe global warming is a problem, just like global warming was a problem for the macroflora in 10 000 BC and global cooling was a problem in the middle ages.

But we don’t make a religion out of it, and make a fool of ourselves. A vibrant economy could produce air conditioners and relocate Bengali farmers threatened by rising sea levels to areas where they could make a better living than the poverty stricken, disease laden area where they live today…(Heck, it worked for the Irish).

Which comes to another cause of Methane: Rice paddies.
Traditional tropical rice is grown organically, using manure and weeds as fertilizer. You flood the fields to rot the vegetation, then plow it under to mix and then plant seedlings by hand. The “trick” in rice paddy flooding is that water is not standing, but flows slowly, so the plants get oxygen, but the water is high enough to stop weeds so herbicides are not needed.

Yet it is this method that has been called a major producer for greenhouse gases.

It’s the bacteria that thrive in flooded paddies that produce methane, by decomposing manure used as fertilizer and other organic matter in the oxygen-free environment. The gas is emitted through the plants or directly into the atmosphere.

Ironically, it is because China is richer that it’s production of rice related methane has decreased: they use less manure and more nitrogen fertilizer, they eat other things, so that less rice is needed, and farmers can use modern cultivation techniques that allow draining fields periodically.

In other words,  rice grown by traditional methods is making things worse. Using herbicides and artificial fertilizer and then letting the fields fallow/dry is better for global warming.

Ironic, isn’t it? Organic farming (which our family does, by the way) is worse for global warming than our SUV….


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her family grows organic brown rice for market. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

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