That's a lot of decaying plant matter
July 11, 2014 3:53 PM   Subscribe

Word association time: I say "peat", you say… "Scotland", right? Not necessarily! Peat is found around the world, including in many African countries. Earlier this year, scientists trekked through a Congo swamp, braving gorillas, elephants, crocodiles, and more. Their reward? Discovery of a peat bog the size of England. The team estimates that the bog covers between 100,000 and 200,000 square kilometers (40,000 to 80,000 sq miles), with the peat-layer reaching up to 7m (23ft) beneath the ground.
posted by Lexica (28 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
I just figured out the plot to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell 2 (working title).
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:04 PM on July 11, 2014


: I say "peat", you say…

Ardbeg.

Peat: The Pre-Industrial Fossil Fuel
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:04 PM on July 11, 2014 [10 favorites]


Cool! I hope they learn lots of interesting things about the climate of the Congo in pre-historical times by studying it.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:07 PM on July 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Word association time: I say "peat", you say… "Scotland", right?

If by "Scotland" you mean "Ireland", then yes.
posted by Thing at 4:10 PM on July 11, 2014 [16 favorites]


Surely this will silence the peak peat conspiracy theorists!
posted by chavenet at 4:13 PM on July 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Big Peat is worldwide.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:14 PM on July 11, 2014


Peat and Wee Peat are in the Congo. Peat was eaten by a Mokele-mbembe. Who's left?
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:17 PM on July 11, 2014 [9 favorites]


I'm eagerly awaiting the first Congo whiskeys.
posted by curious nu at 4:19 PM on July 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Even though I know objectively about the distortions caused by the Mercator and other common map projections, I am still often caught off guard by how very large Africa actually is.
posted by Nerd of the North at 4:21 PM on July 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Lewis said: "The Congo peatland is a major store of carbon, slowly removing carbon from the atmosphere. This should, if the region is not drained for agricultural use, store billions of tonnes of carbon for the long term, keeping it out of the atmosphere.

I.e., "Please don't drain it for agricultural use."
posted by limeonaire at 4:29 PM on July 11, 2014 [9 favorites]


When you say peat, I say "The Fens", or "the Netherlands" - and then "northern Canada". Scotland and Ireland don't even make the list unless you mention bogs.

But yeah: draining it is a bad idea. They are thinking of purposely reflooding the Fens.
posted by jb at 4:42 PM on July 11, 2014


and they say no one is making any more coal...
posted by bartonlong at 4:47 PM on July 11, 2014


Cool! I hope they learn lots of interesting things about the climate of the Congo in pre-historical times by studying it.

They'll have that sucker drained, mined, and fully exploited as soon as the concessions can be signed.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:22 PM on July 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Imagine how many bog bodies are in there!
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 6:19 PM on July 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


You say peat, I say moss.

Peat bogs are all over the place. There's a dried-out one in the suburbs of Boston, on the border of Arlington and Lexington. Somebody set it on fire once, and it burned under the surface for some years after, occasionally coming to the surface for the fire department to hose down.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:54 PM on July 11, 2014


tmtt, thanks for the Low-Tech Magazine link. Another example of the great work they do.
posted by sneebler at 7:25 PM on July 11, 2014


This post led me down a Wikipedia link-clicking spiral, in which I learned that the name Lincoln is a portmanteau of Lindum Colonia, which was the Roman name for the city of Lincoln, England. Amazing!
posted by jessssse at 8:10 PM on July 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


OMG! Think about the massive amount of peated single malts one could make with this!!!

*faints*
posted by Hairy Lobster at 8:14 PM on July 11, 2014


Sounds like some serious reclamation could be done carbon wise if we let the whales live and poop and compact our grass clippings in the local artificial lakes.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 8:34 PM on July 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Highly recommend reading the link above [link to comment] on the use of peat as a fossil fuel and the environmental impact in 1600's Holland caused by rampant peat digging.

Also didn't realize that moss is the modifier in "peat moss" and is just one potential source for easy-peasy-semi-peat.
posted by aydeejones at 9:24 PM on July 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, if they find a barley bog next door, it's going to be a fun few years.

I used to make a fair amount of pocket money in my school days, cutting, drying and bringing home the peat in my mothers village. Back then the old folks still wanted a peat stack for the winter, but were getting too old to do the cutting with the tairsgeir and especially the back breaking throwing and stacking. The peat on my island had been worked for hundreds of years before my day. Of course our population dictated that it never got to the industrial levels of Antwerp, that must have been crazy. I don't know how far down we were working it compared to our forefathers, but I never saw rock and doubt anyone will there now. I don't see much peat these days when I visit, everyone's got oil, which, to be fair, is a lot cleaner and probably cheaper than paying me and my cousin 3 times in the summer.
posted by IanMorr at 9:37 PM on July 11, 2014 [9 favorites]


Coming soon: connoisseurs claiming that scotch made from malts smoked over Congolese peat have a more 'floral' aroma to their smokiness than that made from Scotch peat.
posted by shivohum at 11:11 PM on July 11, 2014


Today I learned that Scotch is flavored by the smoke of burning rotted plants.
posted by telstar at 1:40 AM on July 12, 2014


And it tastes like it too...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 1:45 AM on July 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


...and it is wonderful and is one of the great joys of life.
posted by Hicksu at 2:25 AM on July 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I say "peat", you say…

Peat's brother Peat.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:23 AM on July 12, 2014


And it tastes like it too...

Try a Speyside whisky. No burning tire flavor to 'em at all.
posted by Lexica at 9:28 AM on July 12, 2014


*COUGH* The Glenrothes *COUGH*
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:31 AM on July 12, 2014


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