Climate: Elephants or fish can help against global warming


Elephants or fish can help against global warming

Some animals can reduce the carbon footprint of human activity. This would represent a sequestration of 6.41 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide per year.


Scientists estimate that African elephants store 13 million tons of carbon annually.


Forests, oceans, and wetlands are large carbon sinks that help sequester them Climate deregulation. But according to one study, all nine animal species play a key role in staying below the 1.5 degree target. Warming up.

Some wild species help capture carbon by trampling the land, eating plants or other animals, or their waste. Protecting or restoring just nine species—marine fish, whales, sharks, gray wolves, bison, sea otters, musk oxen, African forest elephants, and the American bison—could sequester 6.41 gigatons of carbon dioxide. per year, the study released Monday estimated “Natural Climate Change” Fifteen scientists from eight countries contributed.

Remove 500 gigatons of carbon

Combined with all other emissions reduction measures, this would be more than 95% of the amount needed each year to meet the global target of removing 500 gigatonnes of carbon from the atmosphere by 2100, which would keep global warming below the 1.5 degree limit. Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels set as one of the objectives of the Paris COP.

“Wild animals represent only 0.3% of the carbon in global biomass, so they are usually overlooked in carbon accounting. But many species can exert very strong control over the carbon cycle by causing 15 to 250% differences in the amount of CO2 absorbed and stored in plants and soil, compared to conditions without animals. .Yale and lead author of this study.

Example of elephants

A symbolic example: Congo Basin forest elephants not only eat and excrete the seeds of trees that are particularly efficient at storing carbon, but also promote germination in their feces. They also trample understory plants that store more carbon—for taller trees.

Their restoration – that is, from 500,000 to 1 million elephants, whose numbers have declined by 86% in the last 31 years, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – could lead to an additional annual saving of 13 million tonnes. Carbon, scientists estimate.

Carbon sink fish

Conversely, their destruction could lead to the loss of 7% of carbon storage, or a total of 3 billion tons, a previous study revealed in 2019. But the largest contributors to carbon storage are fish, accounting for only 5.5 gigatonnes per year.

“It is urgent because we are losing the populations of many animal species while discovering how their role in ecosystems enables carbon capture and storage,” said Magnus Silvan, one of the authors of the study. .

(AFP)Show comments

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