Once the peat is cut and dried, it can be burned as fuel.
People in Ireland have used peat for fuel for centuries. Families cut brick-shaped blocks. They laid the bricks out to dry in the summer sun. Then, people carted the peat home. They burned the bricks to keep warm during winter.
In the last hundred years, Ireland began burning millions of tons of peat in power plants. These power plants bring electricity to seven percent of the country. More than 70,000 homes still burn peat for heating.
This releases stored carbon into the air. As a gas, carbon dioxide further warms our planet. Then bogs become carbon sources. Peat is a fossil fuel but not an efficient one. It releases more carbon than coal or natural gas.
The sun is a fiery ball of gases.
A man stacks bricks of peat to dry.
Some Irish homes are still warmed by peat fires.
In 2019, Ireland made a climate action plan. It called for releasing less carbon gas into the air. But it’s hard for people to change their way of life.
People who use peat to heat their homes love it. They believe that burning something else just wouldn’t feel the same. Peat is also cheap. Some people might struggle to pay for other types of fuel. Change may be difficult. But Ireland is determined. So, it will need to change the way it uses its bogs.
A local landowner helps me to identify bog plants.
Insect-eating sundew plants thrive in a bog.
A Future for Bogs
In Ireland, turf-cutters want to use peat. Conservationists want to preserve it.
One peat user, Albert Austin, had cut the local peat bog for decades. He had many fond memories of using peat. When he was asked to stop, it was a big change for him.
In the end, he decided to stop cutting peat and sell his section of the bog to a conservation program. In that way, it could be preserved. He is proud that his community will have a bog for the next generation to enjoy.