What Ancient Maya Forests Can Tell Us About Our Future – Repeating Islands

What Ancient Maya Forests Can Tell Us About Our Future – Repeating Islands

Tropical rainforests are like carbon dioxide sponges, their plants sucking down tremendous amounts of the greenhouse gas for photosynthesis. When those plants die, that carbon makes it way into the soil, where some of it gets stuck to minerals and locked away for hundreds to thousands of years. Scientists estimate there are nearly 500 billion tons of carbon stored in tropical soils, or more than half of what’s currently in our atmosphere.

The new study attempts to shed light on what human activity means for that carbon over the long term. To do so the authors turned to radiocarbon dating, a widely-used technique for determining the precise age of centuries to millennia-old organic remains. Specifically, they looked at the age of hard-to-decompose plant waxes in sediment cores taken from three lakes in the former Maya lowlands. The idea is that the waxes make their way into lakes only after becoming buried in nearby forest soils, and that their age offers an indicator of how long carbon sticks around in the ground.

The findings were dramatic. The study found a 70-90 percent decrease in the age of plant waxes leaking out of soils over the past 3,500 years, a decline that closely matched patterns of deforestation resulting from Mayan expansion. While there’s some indication that soil carbon began sticking around longer after Spanish conquest depopulated the region 500 years ago, the carbon sink never recovered to where it was before human settlement.

via What Ancient Maya Forests Can Tell Us About Our Future – Repeating Islands

Whatever is not sustainable is TERMINAL.

The Mayans lived close to Nature, but also fought a war against Nature. They ultimately LOST the war on Nature.

How long will it take for humanity to learn that this war is unwinnable and start working WITH Nature, rather than fight a war against her?

Ask the question; what works for 7 future generations without causing harm?