Destruction of Wetlands Would Unleash Global "Carbon Bomb"

The development and draining of wetlands is releasing large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, threatening to set off what scientists are calling a “carbon bomb.” Meeting at an international wetlands conference in Brazil, the scientists said that peat bogs, marshes, river deltas, swamps, mangroves, tundra, and other wetlands contain 20 percent of Earth’s carbon, much of which is being released by development and draining for agricultural land. Conserving wetlands now will be far more effective than trying to restore them later, the scientists said. In addition to sequestering greenhouse gases, wetlands purify water and provide important habitat for many species. More than 60 percent of wetlands worldwide have been destroyed in the last century, mostly due to agricultural development.