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Here are the sentences:

  1. With sea otters to keep the population of sea urchins in check, kelp forests can flourish. In fact, even two years or less of sea otter presence can reduce the sea urchin threat.

Then should the following sentence be 2 or 3?

  1. However, without sea otters present, kelp forests run the danger of becoming barren stretches of coastal wasteland known as urchin barrens.

OR

  1. In other words, without sea otters present, kelp forests run the danger of becoming barren stretches of coastal wasteland known as urchin barrens.

I understand that "however" is used to contrast. "In other words" means "in short" or "another way of saying the same thing". Can someone demonstrate if "however" or "in other words" makes more sense with the sentences above? I think the "however" is used incorrectly here. If both are correct, how can that be? (However is for contrast and in other words is for saying the same thing)

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    It's a bad example, because it confuses / conflates the normally quite distinct meanings of however and in other words. Bottom line: however normally introduces new information which somehow contrasts/conflicts with earlier text. Your context is If A then B [linking term] If NOT A then NOT B. It's really a matter of opinion how to link those two assertions. You could just as well defend but, however, although as thus, therefore, that is to say, in other words. – FumbleFingers Apr 12 '18 at 17:24
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    We can survive as long as we have oxygen. However/In other words, if we run out of oxygen, we die. – Chuckk Hubbard Apr 12 '18 at 17:56
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    'In other words' is incorrect here as 'without sea otters present, kelp forests run the danger of becoming barren stretches of coastal wasteland known as urchin barrens.' has not been stated previously in any form. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 12 '18 at 19:30
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    Them's strong words, @EdwinAshworth. yourdictionary.com: "He has another appointment on Thursday. In other words, I don't think he'll be attending your gathering." The fact that he may not be attending the gathering is NOT mentioned in any form in the first sentence. This expression is used very commonly to introduce leaps of logic. thefreedictionary.com: " Henry: Sure I want to do it, but how much do I get paid? Andrew: In other words, you're just doing it for the money. Bill: Well, I suppose I really should prepare my entourage for departure. Bob: In other words, you're leaving?" – Chuckk Hubbard Apr 12 '18 at 22:27
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    @Chuck Hubbard I quite agree. The looser sense is encountered commonly in conversation. However, OP's example is in a far more formal register, and scientists tend to be precisionist. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 12 '18 at 22:50
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HeyDoeFarm, to me 'lest' (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lest) would be a better word in this subject's context as opposed to "Hence" (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hence).

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