Can restoring animal populations in the ocean sequester CO2? This question has generated a lot of conversation and was explored in depth in the 2022 in the National Academy of Sciences report on Ocean Carbon Dioxide Removal.
Chapter 6 of that report covered ecosystem restoration and how much CO2 it can potentially sequester. The report found the fully restoring ocean ecosystems would draw down CO2 equivalent to 5% of annual human emissions.
In 2019 Alex Trembath and Seaver Wang at the Breakthrough Institute wrote an article about the concept of “Negative Emission Whales” in response to a that large whale populations would drawdown significant amounts of CO2.
Trembath and Wang balked at this report and cited other, less ambitious figures assessed by other research. They also focus on the limited ability of existing methods to quantify the CDR ability of this approach.
Today we’re joined for the first time as a regular co-host by Shannon Valley. We’re happy to welcome her as a monthly science guest! Shannon has been a researcher of paleoceanography and marine biogeochemistry, has served on Joe Biden’s NASA transition team and is currently a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at USAID (US Agency for International Development).
This week Radhika, Jane, Shannon discuss a wide range of topics related to ocean habitat restoration. Can it pull down CO2? Can we measure the sequestration? And should we still do it ASAP even if those measurements aren’t yet possible?
On This Episode
Breakthrough article on “Negative Emissions Whales”
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