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Environmental Issues

What are Peat Bogs and how did they form?

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November 26, 2008 2:47AM

Peat bogs are composed of rotting vegetation and water, and are formed when the plant material isn't allowed to decompose fully, perhaps because the water is too acidic, or there is not enough oxygen. They have been forming for over 360 million years and are a very early stage in the production of coal. As many countries use them for fuel, notably Ireland and Finland, peat is classed as a fossil fuel.

Peat bogs contain massive amounts of carbon and methane. The world's biggest peat bog, in Western Siberia, and bigger than France and Germany combined, is beginning to thaw after 11,000 years. It has the possibility of releasing billions of tons of methane into the atmosphere with catastrophic dangers to global warming.