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Last term we looked at respiration and ended discussing the important role CARBON play in our lives.
When the question was asked what processes release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, many of you were able to list quite a few. However which process is able to allow the carbon cycle to complete its cycle?
You could only name one - PHOTOSYNTHESIS.
When learning this familiar biological process, I urge you to look at it in a different perspective. Think of its importance on life on earth and in today's climate of environmental awareness how the role it plays has become more critical than before.

What is Photosynthesis

"Photosynthesis is arguably the most important biological process on earth. By liberating oxygen and consuming carbon dioxide, it has transformed the world into the hospitable environment we know today. Directly or indirectly, photosynthesis fills all of our food requirements and many of our needs for fiber and building materials. The energy stored in petroleum, natural gas and coal all came from the sun via photosynthesis, as does the energy in firewood, which is a major fuel in many parts of the world. This being the case, scientific research into photosynthesis is vitally important. If we can understand and control the intricacies of the photosynthetic process, we can learn how to increase crop yields of food, fiber, wood, and fuel, and how to better use our lands. The energy-harvesting secrets of plants can be adapted to man-made systems which provide new, efficient ways to collect and use solar energy. These same natural "technologies" can help point the way to the design of new, faster, and more compact computers, and even to new medical breakthroughs. Because photosynthesis helps control the makeup of our atmosphere, understanding photosynthesis is crucial to understanding how carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse gases" affect the global climate."
(Taken from Devens Gust's article on Why study Photosynthesis? Click HERE to read full article)

While on sabbatical last year, I passed through the beautiful pine forests in Manning Park in Canada. However the sight of the forest left a dull ache in my heart. There were patches of forest that were brown where the dead pine trees are still standing but all the green pine leaves have completely turned brown. It was a sad sight to behold to see the death of so many slim giants.You can see the change in the forest in the photographs below.



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What could have cause such extensive damage that you can see for miles?


This short article by Brandon Keim from the Wired Sciencemay draw some light.
This letter from Nature will give you more information.

Do you understand the concept of CARBON SINK & CARBON SOURCE from your reading?
How do forests become carbon sink?

You will need to understand the process of Photosynthesis. Read on to learn more.

Drought threatens the Amazon rainforest as a carbon sink
by Rhett A. Butler


From the article "Rainforests absorb 20% of emissions annually" we know that:
tropical forests are absorbing nearly a fifth of carbon dioxide released annually by the burning of fossil fuels, according to an analysis of 40 years of data from rainforests in the Central African country of Gabon.
Writing in the journal Nature, Simon Lewis and colleagues report that natural forests are an immense carbon sink, helping slow the rise in atmospheric CO2 levels.
"We are receiving a free subsidy from nature," said Simon Lewis, a Royal Society research fellow at the University of Leeds. "Tropical forest trees are absorbing about 18% of the CO2 added to the atmosphere each year from burning fossil fuels, substantially buffering the rate of climate change."


I think you would have appreciate by now the importance of forest to capture carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.