Frequently Asked Questions
 
  What is the difference between the greenhouse effect, global warming and climate change?
What causes the greenhouse effect?
How can relatively little CO2 emitted by humans, make a difference?
What are carbon sinks?
Why Is bamboo useful as a carbon sequestrator?
How does sequestration works?
What is bamboo?
How does bamboo grow?
Why grow bamboo?
What is a bamboo pole?
How can bamboo flowering be predicted? Does bamboo die after flowering?
What are the 3 types of bamboo?
What are the most important uses of bamboo?
What are the benefits of bamboo-based development for local people?

 

What is the difference between the greenhouse effect, global warming and climate change? 

These terms are often used to describe the same problem, but actually relate to cause and effect, or problem and consequence. The greenhouse effect is the cause - and global warming and climate change are the consequences. The greenhouse effect causes an accumulation of heat (or energy) in the Earth's atmosphere. The global climate must then adjust to deal with that extra accumulation of energy, and these adjustments result in global warming and climate changes. Global warming results from an increase in the temperature of the Earth's lower atmosphere. Climate changes result from alterations to regional climatic events such as rainfall patterns, evaporation and cloud formation.

What causes the greenhouse effect? 

The greenhouse effect is caused by gases in the atmosphere which have the ability to absorb the sun's energy that is usually radiated back into space from Earth. Energy from the sun comes into the earth as short-wave radiation; some is absorbed and some is radiated back as long-wave radiation. The 'greenhouse gases' allow the short-wave radiation to pass through to Earth but absorb the long-wave radiation that is reflected back to space. These gases include naturally occurring gases - primarily water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxides - as well as industrial chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The problem is that human activities have increased the atmospheric concentration of these gases well beyond their natural levels, and have introduced new greenhouse gases, such as CFCs. This in turn is throwing the natural climatic systems off balance. One of the major greenhouse gases from human sources is carbon dioxide (CO2). While CO2 is naturally occurring, its concentration in the atmosphere is rapidly increasing because of the burning of the fossil fuels- oil, coal and gas.

How can relatively little CO2 emitted by humans, make a difference? 

There is an important difference between the CO2 produced by nature and that emitted by human activities. While nature produces about 30 times more CO2 than human activity, the carbon emitted by nature is part of a finely balanced cycle. The emissions by humans are over and above the natural balance, and consequently result in a net increase in the concentrations of atmospheric CO2. Since the industrial revolution about 850 billion tonnes of CO2 have been emitted due to combustion of fossil fuels, oil, coal and natural gas. An additional 370 billion tonnes have been added through changes in land use and deforestation. Some estimates show that a reservoir of 37, 000 billion tonnes of CO2 is buried in the ground as oil, coal and gas. The largest portion of this CO2 reservoir is in coal, and the second largest is in natural gas. This is a chilling reminder of what is in store for the planet, should we decide to continue to burn fossil fuels without any restrictions. Experts estimate that emission of 2,500 billion tonnes of CO2 - a mere 7% of the existing stock of fossil fuels - will result in a doubling of pre-industrial concentrations of CO2.

What are carbon sinks? 

Human activity is not only producing more CO2, but is also severely damaging the ability of the earth to absorb carbon - via its carbon sinks - the forests and oceanic plankton. Growing forests absorb CO2. Massive worldwide forest destruction results in much fewer trees to soak up CO2, and releases the stored CO2 from the trees into the atmosphere. Similarly, the destruction of the ozone layer by human-made chemicals, such as CFCs, is allowing increased levels of harmful UV-B radiation to reach the surface of the earth. Increased levels of UV-B radiation could reduce the density of plankton in the oceans. Since plankton are the primary carbon sink of the planet, reduction in their density could result in less CO2 being absorbed from the atmosphere. Damage to the planet's carbon sinks, through deforestation and ozone layer depletion, thus makes a direct contribution to the enhanced greenhouse effect

Why Is bamboo useful as a carbon sequestrator? 

Bamboo minimizes CO2 gases and generates up to 35% more oxygen then equivalent stand of trees.
1 hectar of bamboo sequesters 62 tons of CO2/year
(source: J.Janssen, Technical University Eindhoven, 2000)
1 hectar of young forest sequesters 15 tons of CO2/year

How does sequestration works? 

Bamboo removes CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis by using carbon as an energy source and converting it into plant tissue which releases oxygen (O2) as a by-product.

What is Bamboo? 

Bamboo is a member of the botanical tribe of Gramineae with over 70 genera of reputedly 1500 species whose woody stems called culms can have a mature size ranging from 100 mm to 36 metres with individual culms growing up to 30 cm in diameter.

How does bamboo grow? 

Bamboo grows in a fashion that is quite different from the way that a tree develops. A tree has a layer of living tissue around the outside of it's trunk just beneath the bark. Left alone this layer of tissue adds an ever increasing circle of wood around the central mass which you can recognise as the concentric annual rings in cut timber. Not so bamboo. The bamboo stems emerge from the ground as buds with the same diameter as the final stem. All they do is grow longer in much the same way as a telescope, extending at a very rapid rate that can be in excess of a metre a day in a mature stand. When the culm is around three quarters to two thirds tall the elongation will tend to taper. However, they will remain the same diameter and possibly only grow another 10% taller as they mature over the next twelve months. When the culm has reached full height branches will start to appear and depending on species a new shoot can be fully developed within three months. During the shooting stage the new culm will be at least 85% water and it is imperative that sufficient water is supplied to fill these vertical liquid columns. If timber is to be harvested, there will at least a three year wait for the water content to diminish, thus allowing the tensile strength to increase.

Why grow bamboo? 

As a natural and renewable resource bamboo offers an opportunity to turn away from the destruction of native forests towards managed commercial plantations that can be selectively harvested annually without the destruction of the grove or stand. Tree plantations obviously have to be chopped down and their nutrient arrest terminated at harvest. Bamboo keeps on keeping on, with edible shoots capable of extraction after less than five years. The ability of bamboo to rapidly accumulate a high volume of tissue, or bio mass, has gained the attention of industrial and municipal engineers seeking to establish environmentally safe and reliable ways of taking up excess nutrients contained in waste waters from manufacturing, intensive livestock farming and sewerage plants. Trial plantations are expected to secure an advantage over other cropping systems. This is because of bamboo's inherently faster growth rate, massive size, and ever green all year round cover and the very important fact that bamboo can be harvested without the destruction of the grove or stand.

What is a bamboo pole? 

The timber pole is called a culm or bamboo pole. It is the telescopic extension of the emerging shoot and grows to full height at a rapid rate that can in mature stands or groves exceed a metre a day. Perhaps the most noticeable characteristic of bamboo is the segmentation of the culm into distinct nodes or joints with intermediate smooth sectors called internodes. In the great majority of cases the culm internodes are hollow but in all cases the nodal junction is solid allowing for the transverse distribution of nutrients and water. The external surface is polished and extremely hard being coated with a protective screen of wax and silica. Peripheral culm tissue is a dense matrix of elongated cellulose plant fibres cemented together by a substance called lignin to provide a strong and very flexible pole. Poles have multitudes of uses but must be left in the grove or stand for at least 3 years before they are harvested for the timber. When harvested they are preferably stored vertically in the shade to dry. Young culms harvested and exposed to the sun will shrink and/or crack and are susceptible to borer attack.

How can bamboo flowering be predicted? Does bamboo die after flowering? 

Flowering in bamboo is a botanical enigma. The factors that switch a bamboo plant from vegetative to flowering state are not fully understood. Nearly all species of bamboo seem to have their own life histories. Some species outside of the Indian-Asian tropics, and a very few in these tropics, have populations composed of individuals that grow to maturity and then flower and seed annually for many years. The culms that flower often die after the fruit has developed but other culms and rhizomes survive and perpetuate the stand. Many of the more common Indian-Asian species have populations made up of individuals that seed synchronously at regular and long supra-annual intervals. After growing by rhizome and branch production for a species-specific period of 3-120 years, nearly all the members of one species in one area produce wind-pollinated flowers, set large quantities of seed and die. This seed germinates immediately or when the first rains come.

What are the 3 types of bamboo? 

According to their flowering habits, there are three types of bamboo: (i) those that flower annually or nearly so, e.g., Arundinaria spp. in India and Schizostachium brachycladum inThailand; (ii) those that flower gregariously and periodically; (iii) those that flower irregularly. The flowering habit of Bambusa spp. and Dendrocalamus spp. in the tropical regions of Asia and of Phyllostachys and other genera in Japan belongs to types (ii) and (iii). P. edulis flowers sporadically, and the flowering occurs in small areas or in a few clumps. Periodical and gregarious flowering occurs in cycles; the cycles are more or less constant for a species in a given locality but differ between remote locations.

What are the most important uses of bamboo? 

Because of its strength, flexibility and versatility, the culms have been used mainly in housing and for other construction purposes for centuries, particularly in rural areas. Other uses of bamboo are many and varied. It is used in the making of furniture, handicrafts, basketware, matting, rayon and paper, and is used as food, fodder and fuelwood. In India, for example, much of the pulp used in making paper is from bamboo, just as it is in China. In Japan, Taiwan, China and Thailand, shoots of many species are valuable as food. Relatively few species of bamboo are, however, currently used on a commercial scale.

What are the benefits of bamboo-based development for local people? 

Bamboo is the single most important forest produce used by the rural communities in several countries of the Asia-Pacific region. It is also an important source of cash income for the rural poor. In Asia, the history of bamboo is so inextricably interwoven with the history of man that it could be characterized as a bamboo civilisation. Since the commodity is multipurpose and processing is labour-intensive, bamboo-based development leads to the creation of new employment opportunities and income generation, especially in rural communities and expansion of opportunities for women in the work force (Source: N. Manokaran, personal communication).