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Mires, moors, marshes, fens, are all climate champions.

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 NEWSLETTER | NOVEMBER 19, 2021
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Peat Nourishes and Saves

Peat has been on my mind lately. Here in Canada’s Northwest Territories, I’m surrounded by forested peatlands. Spruce, birch, and tamarack grow out of the soggy, black soil and spongy moss. A few months ago, the ground glistened with water and popped with the color of peat-loving wild cranberries and rose hips. These days, it’s covered with snow. When I step into the woods, I can hear the waterlogged earth crack with ice under each step.
 
For the Journal's upcoming winter issue, I reviewed journalist Edward Struzik’s Swamplands, an ode to peat and the scientists who study it. In the introduction to his book, Struzik points to the variance of peatlands and the words we use to describe them. We have mires, moors, and marshes. Swamps. Fens. In northern Canada and Alaska, you’ll hear muskeg, a word of Cree origin. There are hummocks, palsas, pingos, and pocosins. And, of course, there are bogs — one of which was a “jewell which dazzled” Thoreau.
 
Our language of peat hints at the complexity of these ecosystems and their influence on us. Hat tip to Robert Macfarlane: Language is central to our relationship with place, and peat seems to have taken a main role in our placemaking.
 
On a broader scale, it’s important for us to recognize the enormous significance — ecologically, culturally — of intact peat-based ecosystems, particularly now that we’ve spent the last 200 years draining and terraforming them for farmland or other uses. As Merritt Turetsky, director of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado Boulder says, mires, moors, and bogs are all climate champions.”
 
The good news is that this crucial conversation has started to happen on the global stage. At COP26 in Glasgow earlier this month, peat got a lot of play through the Peatlands Pavilion, where scientists could talk with delegates directly about peat as a climate change solution. After an otherwise disappointing climate conference, this gives me an ounce of hope.
 
But as we contemplate peat as a climate solution, I’m also inspired by peat as place. So this Thanksgiving, here in the muskeg, surrounded by berry bushes frozen and dormant for the winter, I’m going to enjoy my cranberry sauce a little more than usual, and give thanks to the peat they grow on.



Austin Price
Contributing Editor, Earth Island Journal

Photo by: Sophia Smirnova

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От: Earth Island Journal <edi...@earthisland.org>
Date: сб, 20 нояб. 2021 г. в 03:51
Subject: Peat Nourishes and Saves

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Sent: Saturday, November 20, 2021 8:21 AM
Subject: [wildlife-climate] Fwd: Peat Nourishes and Saves


 


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