On the glories of whale poo

So, new paper out, pointing to the manner in which whale poo both fertilises the ocean and also, as some of it simply sinks to the bottom and eventually becomes rock, sequesters carbon. Also, som,e of the plankton that feed on the poo similarly sink and become rock.

Thus we should have more whales and I thoroughly agree (one of the few environmental campaigns I am fully behind is the ban on whaling. Not just because they are majestic but because this is a classic commons problem that can only be solved through either private property or regulation and regulation is the correct choice here).

But do note: all of the same arguments apply to iron fertilisation of the oceans. Which is why I support that too although for some strange reason the environmentalists don’t agree.

Go figure.

4 comments on “On the glories of whale poo

  1. If you lower the numbers of one species, you just get more of others, and their poo. I’m pretty certain that (fossil extraction inputs ignored) the carbon cycle- indeed all the environmental cycles- are zero sum.

    Life consists of two groups, one of which turns minerals and basic chemicals into living tissue, and the other which consumes the living tissue and converts it back into minerals and basic chemicals. I think those two always have to balance, do they not?

  2. “and also, as some of it simply sinks to the bottom and eventually becomes rock, ”
    Best explanation for Liverpool I’ve ever heard.

  3. Ian B: there can be distributional effects on means. If you take out a significant number of a keystone species (like a major species at the bottom of the food chain, or the top-level predator, or something), then the ecosystem can be sufficiently destabilised that the total amount of throughput decreases.

  4. I have little time for environmentalists, but I am also wary of casting tons of iron filings into the sea in the hope of sequestering carbon for two main reasons;
    1) Unnecessary, the whole carbon thing is hyped beyond reason, gazzillions of carbons in the air since ’98 and yet no warming. ( I know gazillions isnt a proper measure but you get my drift)
    2) It really is an experiment with the oceans, and given 1), why would you do it?

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