Humpback populations are making a comeback after decades of devastation brought on by commercial whaling—and that’s huge news for the environment.
Humpback Whales Have Made a Remarkable Recovery, Giving Us Hope for the Planet https://t.co/0Rje2KSpI9
— TIME Ideas (@TIMEIdeas) May 16, 2020
Commercial whaling was banned in 1986. Since then, the population of humpbacks breeding in Antarctic waters off the coast of Brazil has grown to about 93% of its original size. This is a huge recovery, considering the population went from approximately 27,000 of these whales in the 1830s to a count of just 450 whales in the 1950s.
Of course we want to save the whales, but this good news is actually even bigger than the whales, so, pretty big. A single whale can keep about 33 tons of C02 out of the atmosphere, meaning the giant animals act as major resources for keeping the atmosphere clean.
According to 2018 emissions data, the C02 capacity of just the Antarctic humpbacks in Brazil makes up for around twice the yearly C02 emissions of small countries like Bermuda or Belize.
Whale conservation is a boon for the world economy. If whales can naturally provide a climate change fix worth around US $2 million per great whale, or even US $1 trillion accounting for all the whales on the planet, we need to protect these whales!
The humpback comeback in Antarctic waters shows what can happen when governments work together to protect our planet’s oceans. The whaling ban gave way to the creation of “whale sanctuaries” and regulation on the trade of endangered species. Now that scientists have developed all the tools and gathered the data, political initiatives are the force needed to create change so that wildlife can recover.
According to the journal Nature we are at a pivotal point in human history post-industrialization where if oceans are protected, marine life will rebound within our lifetime.
Protection for creatures like whales, turtles, sea otters, seals, and fish consumed by humans is critical to maintaining the health of the planet. The good news is, via political intervention, it’s possible to heal from mistakes made in the past.