Science!: Whales Fight Global Warming

Lauren Admire | 26 Apr 2010 21:00

Whale Poop: Solution to Global Climate Change?

There have been some pretty silly suggestions on how we, as a whole, can help stop global warming. However, I think this one takes the cake: stop global warming by letting whales poop. It's exactly as silly as it sounds, but I think it might have some merit.

Here's the basic set-up: Whale feces has a lot of iron in it. Phytoplankton feed on iron. Phytoplankton absorb carbon dioxide. Phytoplankton is eaten by krill. Krill is eaten by whales. It's a neat little cycle. The problem is, due to commercial whaling pressures, whale populations have been slowly dying out. According to Stephen Nikol, of the Australian Antarctic Division, just baleen whales may have been the source of nearly 12 percent of all iron within the Southern Ocean. That's only baleen whales, folks.

Scientists have long known that iron is an effective way to counter global warming. However, suggestions to introduce soluble iron into the ocean were met by criticism and concern by environmentalists. How much iron is too much? How would the ocean react to such an abrupt change in chemistry? The answer lies in whales.

"Allowing the great whales to recover will allow the system to slowly reset itself," states Nicol.

Source: Discover


Lauren Admire says "Remember, kids: Science explains miracles!"

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