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What Whales Can Teach us About Climate Science

By Jacob Devaney on Monday July 20th, 2015

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What Whales Can Teach us About Climate Science

As we seek solutions to our climate crisis, we have a lot to learn from the wisdom of Nature

Planet Earth is a finely-tuned living organism with a delicately balanced ecosystem that has reached a tipping point due to human activity. If you balance a scale at the center, you can easily see that the slightest force exerted at either end can shift the balance. Yes it’s true, that humans are not the only thing that creates greenhouse gases, but the gases we have added to the atmosphere have become enough to upset our global climate in profound ways. In order to correct our course we may need to understand how nature has kept this delicate balance, which has allowed all of life to flourish for millennia. We have good reason to protect, preserve, and understand the beings that have lived harmoniously with their environment since long before humans came along. One such creature, a mammal like us, is the whale.

Many of us saw the viral video, How Wolves Change Rivers that was created by Sustainable Human and narrated by George Monbiot (remixed from a TED Talk). The video was viewed more than 18 million times, whereas the original TED Talk was viewed about 85,000 times. Besides being an extraordinary video, it is a media-collaboration that has done wonders to inspire and educate millions of people. The next video in this series, How Whales Change Climate is ripe for a global conversation as people are beginning to wake up to our shared responsibility to address climate change.

“By changing the story, we change our world.”
– Sustainable Human

George Monbiot: For more wonder, rewild the world

The video is packed with great information, stunning footage, and creative animations. This will certainly be enjoyed by anyone who loves the oceans. Organizations like Sea Shepherd understand the importance of whales and dolphins to the oceans eco-system. Here is the validation of the vital role that these animals in the larger climate crisis. Sustainable Human has also included educational tools that make this scientific research easy to digest, which allows everyone the opportunity to participate in sharing the inspiration on social networks!

“Our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.”
– Sea Shepherd

Nutrients from whale dung moving through the ocean ecosystem“Nutrients from whale dung moving through the ocean ecosystem”

Whales fertilize plankton which allows it to flourish along with the fish that eat the plankton. The plankton also sequesters carbon from the atmosphere, helping to keep the delicate balance of our climate in check. More plankton means more fish to feed the whales, so long as humans stop killing the whales. Nature works in beautiful harmony when we let it.

The return of the great whales, if they are allowed to recover, could be seen as a benign form of geo-engineering. It could undo some of the damage we have done, both to the living systems of the sea, and to the atmosphere.

Whales help to keep oceans healthy, and there is evidence that they are quite intelligent. Humans are also learning to apply nature’s wisdom through technologies like bioremediation. This is a technique that utilizes naturally occurring organisms to break down hazardous substances into less toxic or non-toxic substances. Practices associated with this idea are permaculture and biomimicry. For non-scientists, some quiet time in a forest or sitting on a beach will demonstrate the awesome healing power and wisdom in nature. The time to end our conquest of nature and begin living in harmony with our environment is upon us.

Though the video mentions just how potent whales are in fighting climate change, it is important to note that we are still engaging in many practices that are contributing to our climate problems, and that they will need to end. Coal and fossil fuels are at the top of the list, as they create more carbon than even a healthy ocean or whale population could help to mitigate. Deforestation, fracking, and extractive industries are also a major problem for our environment, but luckily there are plenty of solutions waiting for us if we are willing to make a change. You are officially invited to deepen your commitment to the small changes as well as taking action to hold industry and political leaders accountable. Together we can make the changes needed along with our whale friends in the ocean!

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Jacob Devaney

Founder and director of Culture Collective, creative activist, musician, and producer.

 

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