Chapter 2 Life from Light

In chapter 2 I describe how photosynthesis and the building of complex molecules by plants sustains all animal life, including us.

Although I do not cite it directly, an excellent source on the subject of photosynthesis is Morton, O. (2007). Eating the Sun: How Plants Power the Planet. Fourth Estate. ISBN-10: 0007163657. ISBN-13: 978-0007163656

Page 56. I write about how forests remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. I cite a piece of research from CSIRO that suggests how the rate of carbon dioxide removal by forests is equivalent to about one third of emissions released from fossil fuel combustion. A route into this research can be found at:

More can be found in a paper published by Science (Pan, Y. et al. (2011). A Large and Persistent Carbon Sink in the World’s Forests. Science 19 August 2011: Vol. 333 no. 6045 pp. 988-993) can be seen on-line at:

Page 57. I cite a figure of $3.7 trillion as being the estimated value arising from carbon capture services preserved through cutting the deforestation rate by 50 per cent by 2030. This figure comes from an official British Government review published in 2008 and entitled Climate Change: Financing Global Forests. This piece of work was led by Johan Eliasch, who lent his name to what became known as the Eliasch Review. Interested readers can find the full report at:

Page 58. I mention the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment in this chapter. It reaches conclusions relevant to much of what I cover in my book.  The synthesis report that gives an overview of its findings can be found at:

Page 63. In this chapter I write about the emergence of coastal ‘dead zones’. This link to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) provides a way into the background on this subject:

Page 64. I talk about the costs to the European Union countries’ economies arising from nitrogen pollution. The source I used is: Sutton, M. et al. (editors). (2011). European Nitrogen Assessment: Sources, Effects and Policy Perspectives. Cambridge University Press. The full report can be found on-line at:

Page 66. In this chapter I introduce the idea of a bio-based economy and how a part of this would be delivered through biorefineries. For a good introduction on this subject readers might like to look at a report called The Future of Industrial Biorefineries published by the World Economic Forum. This can be found on-line at:

Page 67. I mention how a process of reverse auctions was used in the Conestoga River catchment, Pennsylvania, USA, to reduce nutrient pollution of aquatic and coastal marine habitats. A good summary of this case can be found in: Greenhalgh, S. (2010) Reverse auctions help farmers to reduce phosphorous content in local waterways, USA. This case study is available on-line at:

Pages 68-71. I remark in this chapter on how oyster reefs among other things help to strip nutrients from marine habitats, thereby improving water quality. Oyster reefs also help to protect coastal areas from storms and provide a habitat that is important to a wide range of other species. The following sources provide a route into the literature on these subjects:
zu Ermgassen, PSE. et al. (2012). Historical ecology with real numbers: past and present extent and biomass of an imperilled estuarine habitat. Proc. R. Soc. B rspb20120313. To see this paper on-line go to:

zu Ermgassen, PSE. et al. (2007). Quantifying the Loss of a Marine Ecosystem Service: Filtration by the Eastern Oyster in US Estuaries. Estuaries and coasts Vol. 341: 303–307. This paper can be accessed on-line via:

Coen, LD. et al. (2007). Ecosystem services related to oyster restoration. Marine Ecology Progress Series. Vol. 341: 303–307. This paper can be found on-line at:

Pages 72-75. On the deal between Norway and Guyana, whereby the former has agreed to pay the latter in return for conserving its forests, readers might like to see a piece I wrote for the Guardian and found here: If nothing else some of the comments that appear alongside this piece offer an impression as to how much more work is needed in building consensus on how best to conserve tropical forests!