Humanity is struggling to contain two compound crises: rising global temperatures and the sinking of biodiversity. But people tend to deal with each problem on their own, for example, because it expands green energy carbon eating machines, while tugging at the conservation of ecosystems. In a new report, 50 scientists around the world argue that treating each crisis in isolation means losing two solutions that solve both. Humanity cannot fix one without fixing the other.
The report is the product of a four-day virtual workshop in which all types of researchers participated, and is a collaboration between the United Nations Intergovernmental Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Depending on the light Paris Agreement, campaigns that address biodiversity can also address climate change and vice versa.
The common language report should have a big impact on government policy makers and conservation groups, but also on corporations, says Betsy Beymer-Farris, a sustainability scientist at the University of Kentucky, who reviewed the report. “It’s hard for companies or nation-states to really distill academic literature,” says Beymer-Farris. The report explains the science of climate and biodiversity and social science to know how to effect change with the help of people who base the land on arable and grazing land. “I was definitely delighted when I reviewed the report,” Beymer-Farris added. “I thought, ‘OK, this is different from what I’ve seen before, because it’s a conscious and serious commitment, a fairer path and a fairer path.’
So what can these campaigns look like? Say, for example, that you turn a large forest into a national park. As the trees grow back, they would kidnap carbon in the tissues and provide habitat for the animals to return. Rather than letting a forest return naturally planting a single tree species to offset the carbon emissions of some corporations, it is more resilient. This is known as the name a nature-based solution, a campaign that hijacks carbon and provides additional ecological or economic benefits.
“You are contributing to biodiversity and creating opportunities for people to use this system in a sustainable way,” says Hans-Otto Pörtner, a climatologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany. The report, chaired by Pörtner, was made by the scientific steering committee of the workshop. But, he continues, if you create a monoculture, “there is only one use. And then if the crop you are using suffers a catastrophe, you are completely losing that purpose.”
A monoculture has less resistance to single-disaster destruction — like a wildfire fire — or to the slower ongoing stress of climate change. “When trees are stressed and weak, they tend to be relatively vulnerable to, say, attacks by insects and other types of disease,” says author Almuth Arneth, a modeling expert at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany. . And if that species is quite on its own, stressed and dying, now the new forest is gone.
Biodiversity is an insurance policy against this. A naturally growing forest has a greater variety of species and it is more likely that some of them will experience a one-off catastrophe or suffer from constant stressors such as higher temperatures and more intense droughts. Resilience enters the ecosystem, operating for thousands or millions of years. A higher probability of survival means that it has a better chance of retaining all of its hostage carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere and increasing global warming.
The authors of the study wrote that stopping attacks on ecosystems by humanity can help fight climate change. Drainage of agricultural wetlands kills species and disrupts the important process of carbon sequestration. Tropical and creek agriculture ignites concentrated groundwater carbon known as peat, which releases huge amounts of greenhouse gases. (Yes, the peat is not alone An arctic thing.) Protecting coastal mangrove forests includes a long list of particularly beneficial, the report points out: the amount of carbon in each area is hijacked four times as tropical forest, many species live and act as a barrier that absorbs storm flood energy.