Most of us have studied the food value chain when we were young – in third or fourth standard at schools. As we grow old and start to learn the more ‘advanced’ subjects, the learnings from these fundamental topics sort of thin out in our brains. However, as we become ‘mature’ and ‘responsible’ and start thinking about the big problems that face human kind and our planet, we come across among other topics – climate change. As we delve deeper, we realise that preserving and restoring natural carbon sinks – soil, forests, and oceans is perhaps our best bet at preventing the global warming. Looking back and connecting the dots, we realise that if we had not meddled too much with the natural food cycles, or the earth ecosystem, we could have been in a better position to address climate change.
Where are we at?
An alarming statistic that recently caught my eye while scrolling through my LinkedIn feed, was this post by David Carlin, where data from PNAS-published research into biomass distribution on Earth was presented to show that humans and livestock comprise 96% of all mammal biomass on Earth, leaving just 4% for all other mammal species.
Cost of the wild
In order to understand the role of wild animals in the earth ecosystem, let us take an example of the wild elephants. According to a study by IMF, Alive, it is worth around two million dollars, if one prices how much CO2 such an elephant saves.
The calculation goes like this: forest elephants enrich the rainforest with their excrements, “mow” it with their trunks and thus ensure its prosperity. Rainforests with forest elephants can absorb about 7% more CO2 than forests without, according to a study by the International Monetary Fund.