I’m off this morning to the state building to talk to the SF waterboard about beavers. Do I feel ready? I reworked the address to include our historic prevalence papers like Riley asked. I made new slides to talk about the research on beavers and water. I practiced everything until I was able to get it down to 43 minutes. (I was told 45 with 15 minutes for questions, so I assume 43 with pauses for laughter or disbelief should be about right.) Jon will be handling the driving and carrying things up for me. So that’s it. I can’t get any more ready than I am now. And having driven home in a TORRENT yesterday with all the visibility of the inside of a cow, allow me to use the metaphor that floats to mind:
It’s sink or swim now.
There were 40 gleeful articles about beavers and greenhouse gases in the last 24 hours but we knew it was coming. Those researchers sure have a lot to answer for. Since you might need to argue with someone about it in the next day or so, I’ll give you Eli Asarian’s (Riverbend Sciences) sage thoughts on the matter.
Yes, its generally true that wetlands generate methane due to low oxygen conditions in their sediments. They also sequester carbon (build peat soils), which should partially offset the climate effect of the methane. Methane (CH4) lasts only a few years in the atmosphere, whereas CO2 lasts decades. So methane emissions are important in the short-term because they will affect how fast we reach runaway climate “tipping points” (for example, melting artic permafrost), but in the long-term, the more long-lived molecules such as CO2 and nitrous oxides will have a much greater effect on climate decades and centuries forward. It is also important to keep the historical condition in perspective: many centuries ago, we had a lot more wetland area and a lot less fossil fuel burning than we have today, so it seems a somewhat unfair to say we shouldn’t restore wetlands because of their climate effect.
So there. I’m off to the salt mines. Wish beavers luck.