Wil Sillen's post

Wil Sillen

3 w

article view

By: Glenn Hurowitz

This may be the most important scientific study I’ve ever read: restoring the world’s wild animal populations can get 95% of the way to the global target of extracting 500 gigatons tons of carbon from the atmosphere. That’s the amount of carbon we need to remove to meet the 1.5 degree target on top of decarbonizing existing emissions.

It's more evidence that Nature-climate solutions need more funding and attention. Whales, wolves, bison, forest elephants, orangutans and beavers are the original climate engineers. And it's not just a theory…these strategies have already been deployed and studied on a vast scale:

When rinderpest disease from domestic cattle decimated the Serengeti’s wildebeest population around 1900, the lack of grazing allowed enormous amounts of grass to create fuel for massive fires, sending large quantities of soil carbon into the air. The Serengeti turned from a carbon sink into a source. But disease control restored wildebeest populations, allowing the soil to once again absorb carbon.

Other species can have similar impact: rewilding the “yedoma” circum-Arctic region with musk oxen, bison, and wild horses turns taiga and tundra back into grasslands, locking up the enormous methane deposits that lie underneath. In Africa, forest elephants disperse seeds from mature trees and trample understory, allowing big trees to grow bigger.

According to the analysis, by far the greatest potential may be in restoring marine ecosystems by increasing biomass of fish populations – which can transfer carbon from the upper ocean into the seafloor by pooping and other natural processes.

While in some cases, animal-climate interaction isn’t unidirectional, the strong trend is that more wild animals = more carbon. And it couldn’t come sooner: wild mammals’ biomass is just four percent of that of humans and their livestock, signs of an Earth that is seriously out of balance.

The implications of this study are vast. We need to:

1) See wild animals as the climate solutions they are, and fully include them in the Nature-climate agenda.
2) Scale funding for Nature and wildlife by at least 10X
3) Ensure that companies account for wildlife impacts when making climate claims; beef companies shouldn’t say they’re green if they buy from ranchers who slaughter wolves.
4) Triple down on 30 X 30 conservation goals, and ensure they’re met by protecting and restoring natural ecosystems.
5) Give fisheries management the priority it deserves as a top tier climate solution.

Finally, putting animals at the center of the climate debate is a powerful political tool to galvanize action; energy is critical too, but can devolve into esoteric discussions of grid response that are inaccessible for most people. #Rewilding animals is something simple, powerful, and engaging – and it’s time to get at it.

Bloomberg - Are you a robot?


  • Rukia Ahmed Abdi

    3 w


    • Kevin

      3 w


      • Tabitha Kimani

        3 w


        • Lucinda Ramsay

          3 w

          This will be a massive attitude shift for a lot of people but it is an awesome and almost utopian goal.

          Welcome, let's solve the climate crisis together
          Post youtube preview with preloading
          youtube overlay

          Write or agree to climate reviews to make businesses and world leaders act. It’s easy and it works.

          Write a climate review

          Voice your opinion on how businesses and organizations impact the climate.

          Open for Climate Dialogue™

          Certified accounts actively looking for your opinion on their climate impact.

          125.5k trees planted

          One tree is planted for every climate review written to an organization that is Open for Climate Dialogue™.

          Download the app

          We plant a tree for every new user.