Eager beavers proclaimed as climate change heroes
Farmers find them annoying, but they have a role in slowing global warming.
(A native of England, Matthew Diebel is a veteran journalist who has worked at NBC News, Time, USA Today and News Corp., among other organizations. Having spent his childhood next to one of the world's fastest bodies of water, he is particularly interested in tidal energy.)
Everyone loves a beaver, right? They’re cute, creative and hardworking.
For many landowners, though, the affection is not great. After all, the busy beasts build messy dams, divert waterways and can cause flooding of agricultural land.
For the fight against global warming, however, they are a godsend, say scientists Chris Jordan of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Newport, Ore., and California State University’s Emily Fairfax, who have just written a report as to why beavers should be part of an American climate action plan.
Let us count the three main ways.
First, they are reversing erosion. “They’re slowing the water down as it moves across the landscape,” Jordan told Oregon Public Broadcasting. “It gives the things that might be in that water that have washed off the land … a chance to settle out so it’s not moved downstream.”
Second, they are pollution fighters. Explains Jordan: “If there [are] pollutants, it gives longer time for those things to be processed so they’re taken out of the system.”
And third, they’re carbon controllers. “By making a living in those streams and floodplains,” Jordan added, “they’re making more plants because that’s their food. … They’re chewing down plants that respond by being more productive and growing more vegetation. And now those plants are storing carbon because the plant material is built of carbon dioxide taken out of the atmosphere.”
Climate-fighting critters? Now wonder we like our eager beavers!