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Ho-Jeong Kang - CO2 & Wetland

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Good afternoon. My name is Ho Jeong Kang. You will listen to heart-touching stories artistic stories and philosophic stories. It might turn out a bit boring but I will talk about science. When you hear the word science, you will probably think about neuroscience, quantum mechanics, or the origin of the universe. I am sorry but not this time. I will tell you a story about wetlands. And about carbon dioxide. I know that many of you really hate science I would like to clarify that you read this 'C O two', not 'CO two'. (laughter) As you might have heard quite often, the CO2 concentration in the air has changed like this over the last 400,000 years. 400,000 years is hard to perceive. Easily speaking, humans had evolved in this period. This happened in Africa long long time ago. What I want to tell you is that CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has never exceeded 300ppm. You might be doubtful about this saying how could I know what had happened 400,000 years ago. But this is a trustworthy science. You can trust science more than the No. 1 torpedo. (Laughter) And... (Clapping) Please, don't clap. This all will be recorded.... I have a child and I have to keep my job. If you give a closer look, there was some change over 100,000 years. For instance, here at this time it was the Neolithic. But CO2 had not exceeded 300ppm. And it was until recently that, -by the way, when I say 'recently' it means hundreds of years- as you can see here, the concentration starts to increase really fast from 1750. The reason for such a sudden increase was the industrial revolution. After the industrial revolution a historical event happens. Manchester United Football Club has been established. (Laughter) Many of you would not believe this but if you look at the data that many people measured, Keeling has been measuring the concentration level since 1958. The key point of this data is the last month data. It is continuously going up. As I mentioned before, Dr. Keeling had made this data. He passed away 5 years ago. So, what do you think that curve's name is after? Yes, it is called Keeling curve. Now his son is measuring the concentration level. All this happened because of the people since we started using fuels and burning oil and coal. And every year we emit 9 x 10 to the fifth grams (900Kg) of CO2, which is tremendously a lot. But I didn't come here to say 'let's stop using fuels'. I came here to tell you more about what's happening in the nature. Every year, plants absorb CO2 12 times of the amount we emit. They eat CO2 just as we eat food to survive. It would be great if the plants absorbed all that amount and most of it go back to the air again as they breathe. They breathe just as we do. And the micro organisms that live in the land dismantle fixed CO2 into the air. So there is a lot of CO2 that come in but similar amount is also released. This also happens in the oceans. If you cannot feel with the numbers, please look at this red square. This is the CO2 amount we emit through our industrial activities. And that's the amount that circulated in the nature annually. The amount that circulated in the waters is like that. Up to now, all that amount has kept an equilibrium. That's why we did not have problems. So even though we solve our fuel problems, if the circulation equilibrium breaks down, something really bad can happen. This is the message I wanted to share today. So, there have been lots of researches on CO2 circulation ecosystem. I a especially interested in the system of wetlands. What's a wetland? This image clearly explains it. Firstly, wetlands have water, and plants. Of course there are animals, too. That brownish part is soil. There is soil, too. Usually in talks like today's, this kind of pictures look like as if my daughter had drawn it. As a matter of fact, it's a picture that my first PhD. student drew. (Laughter) Perhaps he is one of the creative persons in science, just as Mr. Youngha Kim said earlier. (Laughter) ????? (Clapping) I wrote "Wetland' to help you understand. Many people became interested in wetlands these days. Wetland became an icon among environmental movement organizations. There are many activities related to it. Politicians also started to pay attention. Let's skip this. But do people really think that wetlands are important? Do they really like it? No. Here are the facts why I say people don't like wetlands. Can you fill in the blanks? Can any native speaker suggest what for the blanks? Yes, swamp. Here you go. What does all that mean? Those are the names of wetlands. And they mean 'screwed job', being in trouble. For those who don't understand English, let's do it in Korean. Can you fill in the blanks? (Laughter) Yes? Can you say what? Yes. This one? (Laughter) I didn't make this up. If you google 'Peol' (wetland), you will find this. Next, it's an old movie. These are the perceptions and images that people have about wetlands. Normally, wetlands were regarded as places where you get rid of the water to plant seeds or places where you throw out garbage. However, in the last 20~30 years, we have acknowledged this important function that wetlands have. And since then there have been a lot of studies going on. I am especially interested in the wetland called 'Peat' Are you ready over there? I will pass around a kind of soil called 'Peat' There are green plants growing in the upper part. Usually when plants die, they ferment and emit CO2 in the air. Peats are different. They turn in black and remain on the bottom. Please, don't eat. And it smells bad. You can touch it. It's good for the skin. Let's talk in easy science language. It goes like this. What does this number mean? The number of goals marked during the World Soccer Championship. If you regard this as CO2, Korea has absorbed a lot of CO2. But if you do the math on how much it absorbed, it did not absorbed that much. Main traits if peatlands is that it absorbs lots of CO2 but it does not emit it. It doesn't ferment but it accumulates down here. How much? It absorbs CO2 as much as you see there, and it has kept it in the wetland over hundreds of years. Just for better understanding, let's compare. Total amount of CO2 that is in the air right now is this. Peatlands conserve similar amount of CO2. Here we have tofu. After you eat some of the tofu, how do you keep the leftover? I said 'leftover'. So, don't come with recipes. What do you do with the leftover? Conserve. Can you tell me how do you conserve it? Do you wrap it? I guess there aren't many that do house chores here. Well... Yeah, right. You keep it in the water. And then you put it the fridge. Peats do not ferment because they are kept in the water or because they are in cold places. But if the climate changes, what we scientists think is this. Left graph in the temperature change. Purple area is Cold areas such as North pole and the tundra zone will face higher temperatures. Approximately 7, 8 degrees Celcius in 100 years. Lucky if you don't live until then. ???? ???? The right bottom, the red part tell you that it will rain much less. Therefore, it will be hotter weather with less rain. If we do the tofu analogy again,

Video Details

Duration: 18 minutes and 14 seconds
Year: 2010
Country: South Korea
Language: Korean
Producer: TEDxSeoul
Director: TEDxSeoul
Views: 63
Posted by: tedxseoul on Sep 13, 2010

Having majored Microbiology as an undergraduate, and Urban Planning as a postgraduate, he is now studying Peatlands Ecology for his PhD. He is a scientist that went across various disciplines, but he is not engaged in all-round activities. He rather wants to slowly research the core of the traditional biology field. His two main research papers and have been published in , a prestigious magazine. As an evolutionist, he believes that Darwin is the answer to the current environment crisis

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