Thursday, March 4, 2010

Whales and Carbon Credits

With the planet’s climate predicted to change, there are a lot of ways for us to live differently to stop this change or at least make it bearable for the other organisms that we live with. One way is using whale conservation as a way to obtain carbon credits.

Oceanographer Andrew Pershing wants carbon credits for whale conservation and suggests that if the whale populations made a comeback it they could uptake 9 million tonnes of carbon in their biomass. Put into perspective, 9 million tonnes is comparable to 11,000 square kilometers of forest. Sort of like a tree taking carbon from the atmosphere, but instead the whales take it out of their environment through what they eat. In addition to this, when they die and their bodies sink to the ocean floor, it is so deep that the carbon can take centuries for it to resurface into the air. Of course it doesn’t make a dent in the 7 billion tonnes of carbon made by humans, but it’s a starting place for whale conservationists to jump in on the carbon credits idea.

Pershing’s proposal was met with optimism by other scientists who agree and see it as a way to help conservation efforts for whales. There are other benefits that can come from this idea as well. Whale feces are high in iron and can help algal growth in oceans. This means more algae in the ocean and thus more food for many different organisms. The same idea can also be used for large fish like bluefin tuna and big sharks.

Either way this idea seems to suggest a new way for conservationists to gain incentive for rebuilding populations of large animals that hasn’t been thought of before. It soon may be advantageous for the environment to help protect and care for these large animals due to their role in the carbon cycle. This would help give a more concrete reason to preserve the animals than solely relying on their aesthetic value and their importance in their “separate” environment.

I’m still a little skeptical of the whole “carbon credits” method of controlling our green house gasses. Yet this idea certainly puts it to good use by motivating people to protect whales in the ocean.

Posted by Daniel Solomon (3)


  1. This is a very strange article. I'm not quite sure I see the point of how carbon credits can effect whale populations but I'm sure there is some data on it. In my opinions, where humans should be environmentally responsible and replant as many trees as possible in areas where that is possible, the hype on global warming is a bit much. When it effects species such as a whale, researchers must find the cause and figure a solution. At some point this carbon effect will have a detramental effect on the global food chain. Whales are just one example of this.

    Pat Salome

  2. I agree with the fact that something needs to be done about erasing the carbon debt that keeps piling up year after year. I know that some coal factories have been rebuilt with specific carbon scrubbing smoke stacks while other research has tried to find a way to relocate carbon emission deep underground. Helping whale populations sounds like a plausible idea but like it was mentioned, compared to the thousands of tons that we emit annually, we need more efficient ways of dealing with the problem.

    Posted by Charly Almonte

  3. I must say that the whole idea of carbon credits if laughable. The article is some kind of fairyland dreamsequence. We have no idea about correleation between increase in the whale population, and their effect on the carbon in the air. The idea of carbon credits is offensive to some people. The fact is the man made global warming issue is becoming more and more cloudy everday. There is new data, being disclosed, and some of the head pro global warming scientist have admited the data is wrong, and there has not been any warming for many years. As scientist it is important to take feelngs aside and focus on the data, and if the data cannot be reproduced or if they admitly leave out data or rearnage the data so it will fit their preconcieved notions, then it is what it is junk science.

  4. I do agree that the idea is absurd by trying to use carbon credits for whales. It does certainly border being junk science, driven by feelings and baseless facts. The article certainly could have put in more evidence for how stopping whale hunting can decrease carbon emissions in the atmosphere. There are definitely better ways to promote whale conservation.

    Posted by Daniel Solomon

  5. I think that it is okay that whales are being exchanged for Carbon credits. Although the most ideal situation would be to reduce emissions and save the whales at the same time, that comes at a financial and legislative cost. I cannot verify any of the science behind this article, however I like that new innovative ways of thinking are being applied to fighting climate change on numerous fronts. To me, this article represents a “killing two birds with one stone” method. Clearly it is not perfect, but why not help save whales which will reduce greenhouse gases? The whales may not make a significant dent in the pollution, but every little bit counts.

    Posted by: Matt Grazewski