Prized for their fur and once hunted to near-extinction, sea otters’ comeback may herald not only a boon for conservationists but also a partial solution to global warming. Denizens of the northern and eastern Pacific coastal waters of the northern hemisphere, the densely furred marine mammals feast on sea urchins, thereby minimizing the urchins’ impact on their favorite food: kelp.
Hugh Ross explains on Science News Flash that researchers have discovered how this food-chain balance can lead to lower CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Here are some speeding bullets:
• In photosynthesis kelp absorbs carbon dioxide and, along with water and the sun’s energy, converts it to organic matter
• Kelp forests can absorb 12 times more carbon dioxide with otters present than if subject to sea urchins
• By maintaining healthy sea otter populations humans benefit from the resulting carbon sequestration
• Thus, sea otters can be said to be veritable global warming fighters
UC Santa Cruz professor Chris Wilmers, coauthor of the otter study, says “Right now, all the climate change models and proposed methods of sequestering carbon ignore animals. But animals the world over, working in different ways to influence the carbon cycle, might actually have a large impact. If ecologists can get a better handle on what these impacts are, there might be opportunities for win-win conservation scenarios.”
According to Hugh, this discovery marks yet another example of the timeless wisdom emanating from the book of Job. There Hugh finds abundant creation content and insight into scientific and environmental challenges––including global warming––humans face today.
As Hugh describes in Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job, you can add at least two other animals to the list of natural global warming combatants. Whales, through a cycle that makes use of their excrement, play a direct role in countering global warming. And ostriches, if their meat is considered over that of cows, can play a stronger role. Hugh notes on page 68:
The book of Job highlights the theme that God has marvelously designed the universe, the earth, and all its life in such a way as to harmonize ethics and economics. When we humans face a crisis or dilemma that appears to force a choice between ethics and economics, we can be sure God has provided a solution that compromises neither.
Some of those solutions appear to be frolicking in our oceans as if to say, “You otter pay closer attention to me.”