Increasing the number of whales might be our best solution to get carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and to halt global warming.
According to a new International Monetary Fund report titled “Nature’s Solution to Climate Change,” scientists calculated that a whale absorbs an average of 33 tons of carbon dioxide over its lifetime, by trapping Earth’s CO2 when it dies and sinks to the ocean’s floor.
Wherever whales, the largest living things on earth, are found, so are populations of some of the smallest, phytoplankton. These microscopic creatures not only contribute at least 50 percent of all oxygen to our atmosphere, they do so by capturing about 37 billion metric tons of CO2, an estimated 40 percent of all CO2 produced. To put things in perspective, we calculate that this is equivalent to the amount of CO2 captured by 1.70 trillion trees—four Amazon forests’ worth—or 70 times the amount absorbed by all the trees in the US Redwood National and State Parks each year. More phytoplankton means more carbon capture.
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