Matthew Lambourne, Mullumbimby
Congratulations to The Echo for the climate crisis updates; I hope these are to be a regular weekly fixture. The mainstream media ignore most of these issues and when they cannot be ignored, like the current fires in the Amazon, they often get it wrong.
For the last couple of weeks we have been bombarded with stories of the Amazon being ‘the lungs of the earth’, ‘producing 20 per cent of our oxygen’, and ‘absorbing huge quantities of carbon dioxide’. None of these is true; they are myths that have been circulated so often that they have come to be accepted as facts despite the complete lack of evidence or logic to support them.
A mature, undisturbed forest, such as the Amazon was until a few decades ago, does not absorb any significant amount of CO2 or produce oxygen. To do that, it would have to increase the biomass of the forest, which by definition it does not do. Only a forest recovering from major disturbance or a newly established forest or plantation is absorbing CO2, keeping the carbon to increase its biomass and releasing oxygen to the atmosphere.
The important and climate-relevant thing any forest does is to store carbon, and if it is disturbed, for example by burning, that carbon is released to the atmosphere as CO2.
Oxygen is a non-issue; there is more than enough in the atmosphere for anything we can do, so take a few deep breaths and get organised to hit the streets at the next Global Climate Strike on September 20.