Science Goes Up In Rainforest Smoke

Posted: August 30, 2019 by oldbrew in alarmism, atmosphere, Critique, trees

Amazon near Manaus [credit: Wikipedia]

If journalists, politicos, celebs and the Pope can fall for scientific myths and get the facts so wrong, why should we believe them on other climate issues? – asks Climate Change Dispatch.
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The idea that the Amazon rainforest is the lungs of the world is so embedded in our minds that few questioned its widespread use when news about fires in the Amazon was reported this summer, writes Dr. David Whitehouse.

The idea is everywhere—so it’s obviously true. Trees absorb carbon dioxide (bad), don’t they, and give off oxygen (good), and there are billions of trees in the Amazon, so surely it makes sense.

Responding to the fires in the Amazon the Pope has said that the “Lungs of the forest are vital for the planet.”

Emmanuel Macron tweeted, “The Amazon rainforest – the lungs which produce 20% of the planet’s oxygen – is on fire.”

Leonardo DiCaprio has almost 3 million likes for his Instagram posting saying, “The lungs of the Earth are in flames.”

Christiano Ronaldo tweeted that The Amazon Rainforest produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen,” adding #prayforamazonia

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas says “It’s the lungs of the Earth…which provides 20% of our oxygen.”

Barry Gardiner Shadow Minister for International Climate Change tweeted he couldn’t agree with Macron more.

Lib Dem MEP’s say the lungs of our planet are literally burning.

Even Donald Tusk, the President of the European Commission tweeted about “…the destruction of the green lungs of Planet Earth.”

The Rainforest Alliance said, “The lungs of the world are in flames.”

Friends of the Earth want a deal to stop the fires adding: “They need to say ‘we won’t do a deal with you if you are effectively condoning burning the lungs of the world’.”

WWF says the Amazon is popularly known as the lungs of the world.

DiCaprio’s Earth Alliance has formed an emergency Amazon Forest Fund with an initial commitment of $5 million to focus critical resources on the key protections needed to maintain the ‘lungs of the planet.’

However, as the saying goes, it’s not that simple – things never are in science. Check where the figure comes from (and it’s actually not that straightforward to do) and you will find that it’s not that simple. It’s actually wrong.

Geology’s Gift

The Amazon rainforest is not the lungs of the world and they do not produce 20% of the world’s oxygen as is so often said.

The Amazon rainforest is a vast, vital wonder, full of biodiversity and photosynthesizing plants producing 9% of the world’s photosynthetic output but, here is the key figure, 0% of its net output.

You could destroy all of the world’s forests and it would hardly affect our oxygen supply.

In fact, you could destroy every living thing on Earth and still not dent it because our atmosphere of 20.9% oxygen is the gift of geologic time, slow to build up and we have enough to last millions of years.

Yet this idea about the world’s lungs and of atmospheric oxygen needing to be refreshed and replenished—ideas unsupported by science—is everywhere.

Surely journalists would act differently from advocacy groups, celebrities, and politicians and check this fact before writing and broadcasting about it.

Full article here.

  1. Gamecock says:

    When I was in school, it was the oceans that were the lungs of the world. Terrestrial plants were a distant second.

  2. oldbrew says:

    Amazon rainforest is less than 4% of the surface area of the planet. Oceans over 70%.

  3. Curious George says:

    A street is closed in San Francisco, CA for a demonstration at the Brazilian consulate.

  4. jimmyv1965 says:

    – [ ] I wonder if people attending these protests ever look back and feel embarrassed. They’re stooges for the climate change industrial complex. Ask no questions. Just run out in the street and protest a complete non-event. Greenpeace and the WWF are no different than Exxon. They all have budgets, they all have financial targets to meet, employees that need to be paid. They’re just selling different products and services.

  5. p.g.sharrow says:

    Gamecock says:
    August 30, 2019 at 4:21 pm
    “When I was in school, it was the oceans that were the lungs of the world”

    You are so right! The climate and Atmosphere we enjoy are the Direct result of Sunlight and our huge “Dirty” Oceans. Wind on water is the fume scrubber and sunlight in “dirty” water the re-generator that are the “lungs” of this planet. The temperature of the oceans set the amount of CO2 that can be in the atmosphere, the remainder must become trapped in the ocean chemistry because it has to! That is the way Fume scrubbers are engineered to work….pg..

  6. JB says:

    So the planet is developing COPD…?

  7. stpaulchuck says:

    that “lungs” nonsense was debunked ages ago and then the true science got buried, like all inconvenient science.

    In point of fact, at times the rain forest is a net consumer of oxygen. It depends on how much dead fall there is on the forest floor and how much rain comes down. The rotting generates methane and such, and this reacts with oxygen to form CO2 and water under the correct conditions.

  8. Actually, the Ocean is. Macroalgae such as kelp, and other marine plants 🌱 like phytoplankton etc. produce over 70% of the world’s oxygen. All terrestrial trees produce the other 30%, With The Amazon Rainforest producing less than 9% of the world’s oxygen, probably even less according to National Geographic.
    One type of phytoplankton, Prochlorococcus (so small that millions fit into a single drop of water) produces countless tons of oxygen and is estimated to provide the oxygen for 1 in every 5 breaths we take.
    The Ocean is the lungs of our Earth 🌎