The Isoprene Story: A mini documentary on Biosphere 2 tropical forest research
Produced May, 2012
I made this movie to share an interesting research project I’ve been working on at Biosphere 2. This is an example of the kind of research we do in the tropical forest biome to understand tropical forest interactions with climate change. Ronald Regan blamed trees for polluting the atmosphere through the emission of large amounts of isoprene gas from their leaves (he might have played down the fact that it only causes pollution in the presence of lots of nitrogen oxides emitted from engine exhaust). But the isoprene story is more than a chapter in political history and industrial pollution, it forms a chapter in the story of tropical forests and their response to and influence over climate change. Yes, tropical forests exert a large control over global climate, and their responses to 21st century warming will be influential to the future of our planet. We need to understand those responses in order to improve our predictions of future climate change and biodiversity, and to inform the mitigation of impacts to humans and the other inhabitants of the planet.