Photo taken at: Lafayette, Louisiana
Wetlands are extremely important in the fight against climate change because they protect us from storms and flooding. Microbes in wetland soils naturally release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, but they absorb more carbon than they release. Scientists widely agree on swamps’ ability to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and convert it into plants, then soil when those plants die and decompose. However, due to climate change, the soil is warmer, making microbes release more greenhouse gases. Swamps can also help ecosystems and human communities be more resilient to climate change. They provide water during droughts and help to cool surrounding areas while salt marshes protect the coast from hurricanes and storms. They can even act as a shield against sea level rise. Unfortunately, for centuries, wetlands have been considered wastelands and have been used to build many of our modern cities. Scientists estimate that the planet has lost 54 to 57% of wetlands and they continue to disappear at alarming rates. “We are losing wetlands three times faster than forests,” says Martha Rojas Urrego, a biologist, ecologist and the secretary-general of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. A quarter of the species living in wetlands are considered at risk of extinction. By protecting wetlands, we may fight climate change’s effects and also preserve biodiversity. Will you fight to save the wetlands?