A Boggin’ Good World

Arriving in Ireland the topics of bogs and peat never failed to be regarded with the utmost importance. I had never before heard of these two terms and was not in tune with what they were, or the usage behind them but I was excited to find out. One of the biggest characteristics Ireland is known for is the bog. It covers about 1/6 of the island. For recent centuries, bogs have been exploited as a source of fuel. Many bogs in Europe have either vanished or are quickly fading, which makes Ireland extremely important to the scientific community, as well as the tourist industry. From bogs, peat is readily harvested, generally wherever there is high rainfall, which lands typically in western Ireland. A bog is formed when a lake or land with high rainfall begins to fill with plant debris which then causes new plants to grow on the older, decomposed plants. Once dug up, the peat must dry before it can be used as a source of heat. Following the harvesting of peat, immense amounts of Co2 are released into the air. The burning of peat is an extremely controversial topic. The environmentalists discuss on one side of the spectrum that turf is damaging to the quality of air, which it is because of the Co2. On the other hand, farmers who have bogland which contains turf do not want to let this source of fuel go to waste. Why would one pay for gas or an alternate energy source when one is readily provided and free? Peat is most certainly renewable, but the downfall is that the rate of replenishment is immensely slow. It can easily take thousands of years for a bog to to restore after just one years harvest. Not only that, harvesting peat is a very slow process. Tom, the owner Killary Sheep Farm discussed how a bog the size of size room can easily take up thousands of years to regrow which was fascinating.

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