Climate-warming carbon located in only 3.3% of Earth's lands - study

If ecosystems were to be damaged, the carbon would be emitted into the atmosphere would then not be restored by the next couple of decades.  

BIRDS FLY near factory emissions n Tangshan, China, in 2016. Waskow emphasizes the importance of using religion to fight climate change (photo credit: KIM KYUNG-HOON/FILE PHOTO/ REUTERS)
BIRDS FLY near factory emissions n Tangshan, China, in 2016. Waskow emphasizes the importance of using religion to fight climate change
(photo credit: KIM KYUNG-HOON/FILE PHOTO/ REUTERS)

Researchers have found that climate-warming carbon is found in just 3.3% of the land area of planet Earth.

The peer-reviewed study, which was published last week in the journal Nature Sustainability, alludes to the ecosystems that must be protected in order to avoid a climate disaster. If the ecosystems were to be damaged, the carbon would be emitted into the atmosphere, which would possibly then not be restored by the next couple of decades.  

Carbon emitted into the atmosphere would prevent humanity from limiting global warming to less than 1.5°. 

The research also reports that the carbon equals the emissions of global fossil fuels released last year multiplied by 15.

The carbon hidden in Earth's lands can be found in peatlands, mangroves and old-growth forests across multiple continents, according to the study. The Amazon Rainforest stores more than 20 percent of all irrecoverable carbons - which is more than any other region on the planet.

Burning forest is seen during ''Operation Green Wave'' to combat illegal logging in the Amazon rainforest (credit: BRUNO KELLY/REUTERS)Burning forest is seen during ''Operation Green Wave'' to combat illegal logging in the Amazon rainforest (credit: BRUNO KELLY/REUTERS)

However, irrecoverable carbon in the area may be at risk due to deforestation, as a surge in recent years is pushing the rainforest to a point where it would transform into a dry savanna, as 15 percent of the Amazon had already been deforested.

On the other hand, nearly 25% of irrecoverable carbon is within protected areas, and increasing the amount of protected land in important areas by more than 5% would prevent more than three-quarters of irrecoverable carbon from being released into the atmosphere.