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UnDisciplined: Could whales help fight climate change?

National Oceanic and Atmospheric

At one point there were more than 350,000 Blue whales in our oceans. Today there are about 10,000. The profound loss of these and other types of whales doesn't just change our ocean ecosystems – it might also be impacting our atmospheric climate. Because it turns out that whales are enormous collectors of carbon.

Heidi Pearson is an Associate Professor of Marine Biology at the University of Alaska Southeast. Her team's recent paper in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution investigates the possibility that whale recovery could play a role in the removal of circulating carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.

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Matthew LaPlante has reported on ritual infanticide in Northern Africa, insurgent warfare in the Middle East, the legacy of genocide in Southeast Asia, and gang violence in Central America. But a few years back, something donned on him: Maybe the news doesn't have to be brutally depressing all the time. Today, he balances his continuing work on more heartbreaking subjects by writing books about the intersection of science, human health and society, including the New York Times best-selling <i>Lifespan</i> with geneticist David Sinclair and the Nautilus Award-winning <i>Longevity Plan</i> with cardiologist John Day. His first solo book, <i>Superlative</i>, looks at what scientists are learning by studying organisms that have evolved in record-setting ways, and his is currently at work on another book about embracing the inevitability of human-caused climate change with an optimistic outlook on the future.<br/>