We Can’t Have a Stable Climate If We Keep Destroying Nature


TThe climate is changing, and it is changing rapidly. Our planet today is 1.2°C (2.2°F) hotter than it was in 1908, when Henry Ford launched the world’s first mass-market automobile. Without a dramatic trajectory correction, there is a 50-50 chance of global warming exceeding 1.5 °C (2.7 °F) in the next five years. If we get to this point, 90% of coral reefs could die, extreme heat waves would become nine times more common, and sea levels would rise several feet. Historically, the debate on climate solutions has focused on decarbonization – reducing the use of fossil fuels and investing in renewable energy sources. Although this is critical, it is not sufficient. Even if we move to 100 percent clean energy, temperatures will continue to rise unless we also address our unsustainable relationship with nature.

Earth’s forests, grasslands, and swamps are natural regulators of climate, thanks to the silent miracle of photosynthesis. But when we degrade that land — through deforestation, overgrazing, and over-cultivation — we release carbon stored in those ecosystems, while reducing their ability to store emissions in the future. We’ve already converted 50 percent of all nature into farmland, cities and roads. This is very worrying, as healthy nature absorbs 25 percent of carbon emissions from fossil fuel use – and that number is declining every year as nature deteriorates further. Unsustainable land use and agriculture are the source of nearly a quarter of all greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere. Human-managed land can be a powerful tool for mitigating the climate crisis; Instead, they speed it up.

This month, scientists from Conservation International and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research released the Exponential Roadmap for Natural Climate Solutions, the first of its kind to maximize nature’s potential for climate stability. In this report, we propose a new guiding principle known as Nature’s Carbon Law: To limit global warming and keep 1.50°C on the horizon, we must reach net Earth sector emissions by 2030, then reach 10 billion tons annually. Negation emissions by 2050. This is no doubt an ambitious target, but we have a realistic plan to achieve it. Our plan does not require unproven technologies or science fiction geoengineering projects. Instead, it relies on a toolkit of proven conservation measures, many of which date back centuries and can be rapidly scaled up.

First, protecting carbon-rich ecosystems that remain intact, prioritizing “unrecoverable” places that cannot be regrowth – for example, the Amazon rainforest and peatlands in the Congo Basin – during our lifetime.

Second, restoring high-carbon ecosystems that have already been lost, particularly coastal mangroves, peatlands, and rainforests.

Third, we must reform how we manage working land: farmland, woodland, and pasture. Nearly 80 percent of Earth’s emissions cuts depend on changing the global food system, the largest driver of deforestation and a major driver of emissions. This shift has to be top-down and bottom-up—almost everyone has a role to play. Large companies must re-examine their supply chains, while financial institutions shift capital away from companies that decay and destroy and towards those that regenerate and restore. At the same time, governments should use economic incentives to reward good behavior and discourage bad behavior; This includes redirecting subsidies away from heavy industry, investing in climate-smart agriculture and grazing, and passing import restrictions on unsustainable goods.

At the grassroots level, modest changes by landowners and managers can have massive overall effects. Farmers, for example, can do their part – and improve livelihoods at the same time – by incorporating trees into farmland, using fertilizers more efficiently and adopting low-till soil management. If only 20 percent of the world’s forests, farms and pastures switched to greener practices, the climate impact would be closer to removing 1.7 billion cars from the road. Notably, many CSA practices do not reduce crop yields—in many cases, they can. to support By increasing resilience against heat waves and drought.

If all three components of this plan—protection, management, and restoration—are taken in earnest, it will not only help fight climate change; It will also protect wildlife, reduce the spread of diseases, enhance food and water security, and grow rural economies. This is the true potential for bold climate action: a more prosperous, equitable and abundant world.

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