Wild animals could be the key to mitigating climate change, says Yale professor
What You Need To Know!
- Protecting or expanding the populations of nine key groups of animals can remove huge amounts of carbon from the atmosphere.
- Wild animals such as bison, elephants, whales, sharks and others store carbon in their bodies and promote tree and seagrass growth, preventing carbon-releasing wildfires and packing down ice and soil to keep carbon in the ground.
- By protecting six groups of animals and expanding another three, we could theoretically meet the planet’s carbon reduction goals by capturing approximately 6.41 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
Good news for animal lovers! Protecting and expanding the populations of certain key animal species could play a vital role in fighting climate change.
According to a fascinating analysis by Oswald Schmitz and his colleagues at Yale University, nine groups of wild animals can remove significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, potentially more than forests, wetlands, and coastal and grassland ecosystems combined.
Bison, elephants, whales, sharks and other massive wild animals not only store carbon in their bodies but also help to promote tree and seagrass growth, prevent carbon-releasing wildfires and pack down ice and soil to keep carbon in the ground.
By connecting the dots, Schmitz shows that despite their lack of abundance, animals have an outsized role in mitigating climate change because of the multiplier effects they create.
To keep global temperature from rising more than 1.5°C above its pre-industrial level, scientists estimate that we need to remove 6.5 gigatonnes of CO2 per year from the atmosphere until 2100.
Protecting six groups of animals and expanding another three can help us reach this target by capturing approximately 6.41 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide annually, Schmitz suggests.