Elephants: The Solution to Climate Change!

Guest “you couldn’t make this sort of schist up if you tried” by David Middleton

From the American Association of Science of America [1]…

Hungry elephants fight climate change one mouthful at a time
By Eva Frederick Jul. 15, 2019

[…]

As African forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis, above) graze, they munch trees and plants with stems smaller than 30 centimeters in diameter—a little wider than a basketball—often damaging or killing them. Researchers used a model to predict what a forest might look like after years of elephants eating down these smaller plants. The bottom line: Slow-growing, shade-tolerant trees thrive with less competition for water and sunlight. The resulting forest has fewer, taller trees with denser wood, and the overall mass of vegetation above the ground is higher, meaning more carbon is stored, the team reports on today in Nature Geoscience.

The model’s predictions checked out in the real world, too. Trees in forests where elephants live had denser wood by about 75 grams per cubic meter than those in forests without elephants. Even just one elephant per square kilometer could increase the amount of plant mass in the forest by up to 60 tons per hectare, enough to suck up more than 10 billion tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide…

[…]

Science! As in, “she blinded me with…”[2]

So… if elephants cool the planet… This means that the megafauna extinction ended the Ice Age!

If I have to tell you when I’m being sarcastic, it takes all of the fun out of being sarcastic.

[1] American Association of Science of America

[2] Science! As in, “she blinded me with…”

Thomas Dolby – She Blinded Me With Science from Mad Hatter on Vimeo.

82 thoughts on “Elephants: The Solution to Climate Change!

  1. “The model’s predictions checked out in the real world, too.” Stunning news. Groundbreaking, even. A day that shall long be remembered.

    • Extremely lucky for the Real World. Disagreeing with the models is a Bad Thing. The social and professional reputation of Real World could have been ruined.

  2. That’s great, but I don’t think we are zoned for elephants where I live, Otherwise I would be sure to get a couple

    • Make sure you keep your stock of trash can liners up unless you want to have a lot of baby elephants running around.

    • Looks like I’ll have to get rid of our dog as she keeps all the elephants away from our place, haven’t seen one since we got her.

  3. Why dont we introduce elephants to Califoemia forests. Its a win win situation. elephants are safe from poachers and chomp up the undergrowth, create paths both of which will reduce forest fires and rectify the eleohant in the room- mismanagement of forests by green policies.
    This was written trunk-in-cheek but might actually be a good idea

    • Living in a place surrounded by forests in the Am. So. West, when I read this I thought this is exactly what the Forest Service failed to do for well over 100 years, only belatedly realizing the importance to forest health of strong, tall trees without a lot of completion or brush and interspersed with meadows.
      A healthy forest has 30 to 60 trees per acre interspersed with meadows per the US Forest Service. What we have now are 300 to 600 trees per acre and no meadows, though the State and Fed. Forest Service are working intensively to correct that but it’s a huge job.
      Fire and logging, not elephants, used to do that and if there were no fires caused by nature for awhile, the Nat. Americans would start them.
      Odd how such a “smart” species can be so dumb or, some of us can be so dumb. They should have listened to the Indians who lived here for centuries, but didn’t.

    • This discussion reminded me of a documentary I saw many years ago on the desertification of land in Africa and how it was attributed to too many elephants. The ‘expert’ ecologist at the time recommended culling the elephant herd. Over the years, >40,000 elephants were culled, but the problem of desertification got worse. That ‘expert’ took another long look and over the years came to realize he was absolutely wrong. Even in his documentaries he accepts responsibility and that “he’ll take that mistake to his grave”. At least he was honest about it. That expert was Allan Savory. Here is a TED talk he did in 2013. https://youtu.be/vpTHi7O66pI

      Now I do not agree with him on his assertion on Carbon climate change, as he states in the opening of this. He even uses the flaming earth graphic in the background. BUT, if you pay attention at the 18:50 mark, he makes a statement that the way we are using the land and causing desertification is as much if not contributing MORE to climate change than fossil fuels.. At least his recommendation actually makes sense, is beneficial to all and doesn’t rely on government forcing their policies on us with economy crushing taxes.

  4. Elephants are the answer to most things. Most other problems become minor when you are faced with an Elephant…

  5. Artillery to soften up the people to accept a ban on elephant hunting. Cos climate change.

  6. The Lancet tells us that 50% of peer reviewed medical science can’t be replicated.

    Bayer puts that number at 75%.

    Medical science is a rigorous environment compared to climate science.

    I hypothesise that 99.9% of alarmist climate science can’t be replicated and is therefore BS.

    • Please give us a link to the Lancet and Bayer articles to which you are referring.

      • This is from the President of the UK Royal Society of Medicine reposted by NIH. Not sure if the Lancet or Bayor picked it up and it’s the same one or not.

        So peer review is a flawed process, full of easily identified defects with little evidence that it works.
        —and scientists and editors have a continuing belief in peer review. How odd that science should be rooted in belief.
        http://bit.ly/2KpPqCb

  7. And what about all the Methane these elephants will produce?

    I like elephant, very tasty.

  8. Climate Realist: “Elephant dung does not sequester ‘carbon’. It creates more CO2.”
    Climate Alarmist: “Oh (excrement deleted)! There goes another trite hypothesis!”

    Q: If you cross an elephant with a rhino, what do you get?
    A: Elephino!

    Q: If an elephant’s front legs are going 25mph, how fast are their back legs going?
    A: They’re hauling ass!

    • Actually elephant dung gets ‘sequestered’ very quickly. You wouldn’t believe how many dung beetles zero in on each elephant drop. Within an hour it is boiling with industrious dung-beetles, and within a day it is all gone and buried. Of course it still gets eaten and turned into CO2 by all those little dung-beetle larva, but then you can’t have everything can you?

  9. “Trees in forests where elephants live had denser wood by about 75 grams per cubic meter ”
    1/4 cup of water weighs about75 grams. Not much difference in a cubic meter.

      • A little too precisely. More like “well within the error bars”.

        The mix of tree types and tree size variance would dwarf 75 G/cubic meter…it could even dwarf 75 KG/cubic meter.

        The internet chart shows trees weigh from 400KG to 1,200 KG /cubic meter depending on tree type and individual tree types can vary from 400KG to 700KG/ cubic meter.

        I want to bring Mammoths back as much if not more than the next guy, but this isn’t good science.

    • It helps to think 3/4 dl of water weighs 75 g.

      Now I know the size of your cup. 😉

      What comes to the ‘denser’ thing, I find it probable elephants are not quite a carbon storage device, but what I’m to say? Traditional wisdom says elephants keep the forest sparse. But then again, I’ve seen only little African forest. Maybe we should bring elephants to Berlin so that its Linden alleys would grow denser. :p

      There’s nothing beating being shot while trying to flee the east Berlin other than being trampled by a carbon sequestration zoo. /sarc for sure

      • Maybe, but I don’t think Germany has that many forests and what they do have, they are busy cutting down for windmills. They are not need in Scotland, for sure. The Greenies have that destruction of forests thing down pat.

        ONLY a fraction of Scottish forests felled to make way for wind farms have been replanted, figures show, sparking calls for a ban on new developments.

        Forestry Commission statistics reveal that about five million trees – almost one for every person in Scotland – have been cut down to clear space for turbines in the past six years but less than a third of them have been replaced.

        Of the 2,510 hectares stripped of woodland to make way for turbines since 2007, just 792 hectares were reforested after construction was completed.

        The Scottish Conservatives, who obtained the figures through a Freedom of Information request, claimed the figures are evidence that the Scottish Government is “destroying nature” in a bid to meet its own climate targets, which aim for all the country’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020…

    • 10.1126/science.aay7463 is just an opinion piece, but the actual finding is possible, larger biomass in grazed forest, at least at some timescale. On the other hand, it might be totally different at some miombo (Unter den Linden, for example) elsewhere. It also points out how forestry increases forest productivity.

      In fact one must recognize there are two distinct measures for woke forest management. One is targeting maximum carbon storage, one maximum carbon uptake/productivity.

      Since I find maximum storage dull (and Brits find full-grown forest scary…) and maximum productivity is economically wise, you’ll know what I opine on this.

    • A cubic meter of wood weighs 500-900 kg depending on the species of tree. 750 kg is a good average, so 75 grams is 0.01 %. This is so ridiculously insignificant and un-measurable that I assume that they meant to say 75 kilograms rather than grams. It would still be a fairly minor effect (10 %), but perhaps statistically significant.

  10. Elephants do affect the climate – for example, it is possible that the rise of elephants lead to the savannah plains which then caused a dumb ape with a genetic disposition to believe in doomsday cults to come down from the trees.

    What is more important, is that the regular population expansions which lead to the devastation of forest by elephants and then the population crashes that follow, are just one more thing that adds to the natural variation (that according to the IPCC doesn’t exist).

      • The IPCC use the argument “nothing but CO2 could have caused the climate to change”. This argument is produced by denying every form of natural climate change exists.

        The counter argument to this is to show that elephants do change the climate. Not, because elephants are particularly special as every living organism en masse also has an effect on the climate.

        The particular effect elephants have, is that they use their weight to knock over and kill trees. So, when there is a population explosion, they will relatively quickly (in climate terms) change the forest into savannah. That has a profound effect on the amount of evaporation of water from leaves, and because a very large amount of heat is removed from the surface by evaporation, changing the environment from forest to savannah has a profound effect on the local surface temperature and in turn, the lack of evaporation then means there is less rain in the areas where it used to rain.

        So, yes, elephants do affect the climate. We also know that urban heating (the same process of reducing plants and therefore evaporation) also has an effect. But also termites, and indeed, any living species will affect the climate to some degree.

        Add up all the natural effects, Biological, ocean currents and solar, and you will have enough to explain all the natural variation. Which means the recent warming doesn’t have to be CO2 and instead can be easily explained by natural climate variation (part of which comes form elephants). And once you accept that, the IPCC have no case, the global warming scam disappears and we all left looking for some other interest other than climate to comment on. (And less taxes)

        • ‘The IPCC use the argument “nothing but CO2 could have caused the climate to change”.’

          Argumentum ad ignorantium.

          No counter argument is required for a stupid fallacy.

    • >>
      . . . the savannah plains which then caused a dumb ape . . . .
      <<

      It looks like that old Savannah theory of human development is rearing its ugly head again. I wish they’d stick a fork into it, because it’s done. Unfortunately they taught a whole generation that silly theory, and people are still quoting it.

      Jim

  11. “The model’s predictions checked out in the real world, too. Trees in forests where elephants live had denser wood by about 75 grams per cubic meter than those in forests without elephants.”

    75 grams!? Variance in a wood block 1 meter by 1 meter by 1 meter?

    The first question is how many thousands of cubic meter blocks of wood did they test?
    One suspects these alleged researchers did not test even one full block of wood.

    “As African forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis, above) graze, they munch trees and plants with stems smaller than 30 centimeters in diameter—a little wider than a basketball—often damaging or killing them.”

    Elephants don’t eat the wood.
    When elephants eat grasses, they are grazing.
    When elephants eat buds, growing stems, fruits, etc. from trees, they are browsing.
    Large healthy elephants happily pull down large trees to eat the good stuff. If they can pull the branches down, they will; if not, they can push over the tree. Nor do elephants measure the wood first.

    “Researchers used a model to predict what a forest might look like after years of elephants eating down these smaller plants. The bottom line: Slow-growing, shade-tolerant trees thrive with less competition for water and sunlight.”

    Really!? Is that what African savannas look like? Perhaps Indian and SE Asia jungles are thick mature forests, but not the African savannas.

    I find it amazing that the sentence “Slow-growing, shade-tolerant trees thrive with less competition for water and sunlight” didn’t ring any alarm bells for the researchers.

    Slow growing plants, especially in deep shade stay small until they receive the light and water necessary for growing large. That is; the trees stay at easy to eat size for a long list of browsers for a long period of time.

    Another group that proves their own beliefs, not conduct science.

    • Very good point!
      Lincoln wrote in the 1862 letter to his “Great and Good Friend”, the King of Siam, that “steam on land, as well as on water, has been our best and most efficient agent of transportation in internal commerce”, and that the country “does not reach a latitude so low as to favour the multiplication of the elephant”.

      That war of secession was all about whether the agrarians or industry would prevail . When industrial development did prevail, the entire planet took off, with with Germany and Japan.

      This elephantine proposal is agrarian, again. Some Royals have never forgiven Lincoln.

      • 😎
        He also pointed out to the King of Siam that the northern latitudes would not be … hospitable to elephants.

  12. With a little research I find the average density of wood is about 690,000 grams per m³. They were able to tease out an increased density of 75 grams per m³, or 0.01%

    Color me unimpressed.

    • Oh don’t be so crudely anti-science. /sarc

      It could be the rainforest in denser than that, so you’re underestimating the skill.

  13. Yet another study paid for by some grant-producing NGO that is funded by the Rockefellers.

  14. “Trees in forests where elephants live had denser wood by about 75 grams per cubic meter than those in forests without elephants.” Could this have anything to do with the big piles of what they leave behind?
    If so then I guess Nature Geoscience just got a bit denser.

  15. “Researchers used a model to predict what a forest might look like after years of elephants eating down these smaller plants.”

    African elephants have been around for about 1.5 million years so there’s no need to model what an elephant infested forest looks like, there’s been plenty of time to go and have a look.

      • But I can assure you that a safari in some area with lots of elephants is way more fun than developing and running computer models. I’ve done both quite a lot, so I know.

  16. what would be nice would be to genetically engineer trees that grow fast and have massive, massive trucks and massive, massive deep roots, whose leaves, when mature are shiny on top so they increase the albedo

    • Sounds too much a solution. Wait a second while I’ll come up with a few anti-gmo argments to make sure we stick to plastic straws, switching off toilet light, and virtue signalling with expensive yet kewl electric vehicles.

  17. Pity that a failed model in 1968 literally wiped out 40000 African elephants: google those two words for the mea culpa

  18. Oddly enough Caesar describes in a book how to slay elephants – cut almost through a tree stem, and when they like to lean or snooze against one they are impaled on the tree shards.
    Does that work for modern elephants, or was it for much heavier Mammoths? If so where did he hear about it?
    Not sure if he ever tried elephant steaks, though.
    No question, Mammoth grills were a big hit in CA 40,000BP.

  19. On the subject of proboscidians, megafauna, Ice Ages etc, this morning I just started a book on the archaeology of the Northern Plains, and came across this, emphasis mine:

    “Middle Prehistoric Period (7500 to 1350 B.P.). The climate grew gradually warmer and drier…reaching its peak about 7000 years ago, WITH SUMMER MEAN TEMPERATURES AS MUCH AS 3°C WARMER THAN TODAY.”

    Well, golly! So archaeologists, and (obviously) paleoclimatologists know this, and they also know that this was well after the megafauna extinction, and that there was no resulting “catastrophe,” and they’re saying exactly NOTHING to the purveyors of climate disaster theory. Shame!

    Am I surprised? Hell no – the more I learn about science, the more I see how desperately important it is to many scientists to be noticed, to be accepted by the mainstream, and to be published and granted or to suffer career disintegration, no matter how flaky their assertions might get; in fact it may be safe to say that the flakier, the better. I’m into archaeology and paleontology in a big way, and the level of flakery can get VERY serious. Archaeology is certainly the second-most politicized science after climatology, with arkys falling all over themselves to exonerate paleo-Indians for the megafauna extinction, blaming it instead on a whole spectrum of things including comet strike. Aboriginal groups are in court trying to “repatriate” Kennewick Man with support from sympathetic archaeologists, and on and on.

    An arky friend of a zoologist friend said last week in conversation that archaeology is “a science in decline” due to political correctness. I think it’s safe to say that in the current cultural shift we’re suffering under, many more sciences will suffer exactly the same fate, and scientific ground truth will be suppressed or subverted for the sake of the “greater good.”

    And creeps like Bill Nye wonder why people don’t trust scientists? WAKE UP, you willfully blind poser.

    • Might as well add that where I live, summer temperatures in the 1940s appear to have been ~5 – 6° warmer (and often higher) on average than they are now. My source: Environment Canada.

      What the hell people, get off your lazy asses and go do some research of your own, and stop believing every bit of apelike jabber spewing from the pieholes of scientifically illiterate useful-idiot news anchors!

      No offence meant to journalists of course. 🙂

  20. Didn’t ecologists organise the extermination of about 40,000 african elephants because they were eating too much grass? Maybe that was the cause of the late 20th c. warming.

    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_Savory (emphasis mine):

      “Clifford Allan Redin Savory (born 15 September 1935) is a Zimbabwean ecologist, livestock farmer, and president and co-founder of the Savory Institute. He originated Holistic management (agriculture), a systems thinking approach to managing resources…

      “In June 1973, Savory publicly stated, ‘If I had been born a black Rhodesian, instead of a white Rhodesian, I would be your greatest terrorist’…

      “The few scientific experiments that Savory supporters cite as vindication of his methods (out of hundreds that refute his assertions), often fail to actually test his theories…

      “His research, which he claims was validated by a committee of scientists, led to the government culling 10,000s of elephants in following years. However, this did not reverse the degradation of the land…

      “This unnecessary massacre, brought about by INTERPRETING SUPPOSED RESEARCH DATA TO FIT THE PREVAILING WORLD-VIEW that too many animals causes overgrazing…”

      Another ideologue posing as an expert and being believed by cretins. Sound familiar?

      • I should clarify that last statement; he really is a biologist, trained at the University of Natal. Not that any sensible person here needs further evidence, but it is a rather nice example of how easy it is for even “experts” to screw up on an epic scale because basing their “research” on predetermined biases has real-world consequences. Happens every day in fact. The question is, why do so few people seem to know this?

  21. “Researchers used a model to predict what a forest might look like after years of elephants eating down these smaller plants.”

    Model idiocy of the highest order. If they want to see what a forest looks after being heavily “grazed” by african elephants, why not go to Africa and have a look. Answer: It isn’t a forest any longer, it is a savanna. If an elephant wants to browse a tree and can’t reach the foliage he just knocks it over.

    Incidentally this explains how temperate plants needing open areas to thrive managed to survive earlier interglacials. As long as there was megafauna (elephants, rhinoceros, hippopotami) there were no dense, unbroken forests.

    It gets even more interesting back in the Mesozoic. Climate was much warmer than now, so you would expect that there were vast areas of tropical/paratropical rainforest. But no, nobody has ever found any unequivocal mesozoic rainforest. The oldest one known shows up in the Denver Basin a couple of hundred thousand years after the Chicxulub impact. When there were no longer any large (and I mean LARGE) plant-eating animals. Coincidence?

    • That family tree is wrong in any case. The Forest Elephant is a separate species and more closely related to the extinct eurasian Straight-Tusked Elephant than it is to the “ordinary” African Elephant.

  22. If CO2 was the main driver of climate, then this paper would be slightly amusing. As it stands it, this paper isn’t worthy of lining bird cages. The assumptions made on faith by these religious zealots is just stupefying.

  23. Simply more grasping at straws from both sides to prove who’s right… Such a waste of time from keyboard warriors like myself.

  24. CBC’s Emily Blake is happy to relay the latest PNAS finding : “New research is revealing how plagues, wars and the climate affected the economy of Medieval Europe. But researchers didn’t find this information in the pages of an ancient book — it came from deep in Arctic ice.”
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/arctic-ice-medieval-europe-1.5215903
    The paper is here:
    https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/07/02/1904515116
    Got your attention readers… This is serious business!
    “”It’s pretty amazing to think that pollution got there that early,” said lead author Joe McConnell, a research professor with the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada. “It really drives home how interconnected the whole planet is, what we do in the mid-latitudes affects the Arctic and you really can’t get away from the pollution in the mid-latitudes.””
    Lead author McConnell discovers atmospheric circulation… illuminating!

  25. OMG. ROTFL!

    What is the abbreviation for rolling on the floor laughing?

    ROFL

    Shorthand for rolling on the floor laughing, ROFL or ROTFL, is commonly used to express that you are laughing so hard that you are rolling on the floor. ROFL is often used in a text conversation.

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