Home Science Climate change shock: How worms could be answer to planet's future

Climate change shock: How worms could be answer to planet's future

As temperatures continue to rise, mankind has witnessed some of the most extreme weather conditions to date. Previously trees and plants were able to trap some of the harmful carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. But now nature is struggling to keep up with our ever-increasing rise in emissions and the impact has been felt across the globe. Humans are chiefly responsible for this damage but it is believed that other creatures are also making their own contribution.

One culprit is the earthworm, according to the podcast ‘No Such Thing as a Fish’, which claims they could be releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Very little is known about earthworms, known scientifically as the Lumbricus Terrestris.

Up until 2008 it was believed that there was just one species, rather than the truth of there actually being five. 

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In episode 307 – released on February 7 – podcaster Anna Ptaszynski said: “One common earthworm is as different from another as a human from an ape.”

Referencing an unnamed US article, she added: “Shockingly little is known about any of our native earthworms. 

“There is only one working earthworm taxonomist in all of America.”

Andrew Hunter Murray, from the podcast team, explained that Taiga boreal forest in North America is the “largest carbon sink in the world”.

This is a term for a forest that takes in more carbon dioxide than it releases – and to date is one of the most successful ways of reducing emissions.

Mr Hunter Murray said: “It had two hundred billion metric tonnes of carbon in this boreal forest and that’s not just in the trees.

“I didn’t realise that loads of [carbon] is actually in the soil, like under a tree you might get twice as much carbon in the soil as there is in the tree itself. 

“So the worms sometimes eat the top layer of the soil and they just make it thinner, thinner and thinner and then all the carbon is actually being released into the air because the worms are eating it up and creating channels.”

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