The focus of the BC Trust’s March 31, 2016 Annual Meeting was upon the relationship between land conservation and climate change. Two keynote speakers addressed this important topic from different perspectives.
First, author, editor and scientist Peter Bunyard presented and summarized the Biotic Pump Theory, a controversial hypothesis that challenges conventionally held beliefs about weather, specifically, what drives precipitation and wind. Summarizing the research of Russian scientists Anastasia Makarieva and Victor Gorshkov, the Biotic Pump Theory describes how large forests, like the Amazon, capture and return moisture to the atmosphere and, subsequently, sustain precipitation, and wind. Just as our hearts serve as circulatory pumps for our bodies, forests like the Amazon are “hearts” pumping moisture for the planet.
Climatologists were skeptical of this hypothesis when it was first published ten years ago. With a smile and complex slides of equations, Peter described the foundational physics of the Biotic Pump theory, specifically, how the condensation and evaporative cycle of forests drive precipitation, wind, weather, and climate. Despite the controversy, to date, scientists have not been able to disprove the Biotic Pump theory. In fact, there is mounting evidence to indicate its validity. Having studied and written about the Amazon ecosystem, including the biotic pump hypothesis, Peter Bunyard described his own experiments in which he created a condensation-evaporation model to test the physics of wind creation, a key element of the hypothesis. Based on what he presented, it seems he was successful in demonstrating the validity of this theory.
So, why is this important in Boxborough? There is growing evidence that losing large tracts of forested land results in drought, thereby actually defeating the agricultural goals that drive the clear-cutting of forests. The loss of forested lands, the planet’s precipitation “pumps,” may advance the effects of the warming climate. By understanding the primary relationship of the forest to precipitation, Peter sees great opportunity for this scientific discovery to make a difference in our future. We need to protect the forests, develop sustainable agricultural practices, and support the planet’s ability to sustain precipitation. In addition, he showed how the weather in the Amazon impacts weather in the United States.
Christa Collins, Director of Land Protection at the Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT), shared a new mapping strategy being used by SVT to identify parcels in the SVT service area, including Boxborough. The parcels identified are important to conserve because they are considered “resilient.” Those parcels will have the ability to provide an adaptive habitat for wildlife and support natural resources as the climate gets warmer. Like Peter’s global efforts, SVT and the BCTrust are acting locally to support a resilient environment for future generations by protecting forests, habitat, natural resources, and prime agricultural lands.
Articles about the Biotic Pump Theory:
SVTs website: http://www.svtweb.org