How to protect species and save the planet – once

mankind is struggling To contain two worsening crises: the skyrocketing global temperature and the decline in biodiversity. But people tend to tackle each problem on their own, for example spreading green energies and Carbon eating machines, while tightening ecosystems to preserve them. But in a new report, 50 scientists from around the world argue that treating each crisis in isolation means missing out on the binomial solutions that solve both. Humanity cannot solve one without also solving the other.

The report is the product of a four-day virtual workshop attended by researchers from all spectrums, and is a collaboration between the United Nations Intergovernmental Science and Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. in light of Paris Agreement, is supposed to provide guidance on how campaigns addressing biodiversity also address climate change, and vice versa.

The report should prove in plain language that it is highly influential not only among government policymakers and environmental groups, but also companies, says Betsy Bymer Farris, a sustainability scientist at the University of Kentucky, who was not involved in the report but also reviewed it. “It’s hard for companies or even nation states to really extract the academic literature,” Beymer-Farris says. The report explains both climate science and biodiversity And the The social science of how to bring about change with the help of people who actually depend on the land for farming and grazing. “I was definitely excited when I reviewed the report,” Beymer-Farris adds. “I thought: Well, that’s definitely different from what I’ve seen before, because it’s a conscious, serious engagement with a more fair and just way forward.”

So what would these campaigns look like? Suppose, for example, that you turn a densely forested forest into a national park. As the trees grow back, they will sequester carbon in their tissues and provide a habitat for the animals to return. Letting the forest return naturally, not Plant one type of tree To offset some companies’ carbon emissions, it makes them more resilient. This is known as Nature-based solution, a campaign that sequesters carbon and provides an additional environmental or economic benefit.

“You help biodiversity, and you may actually create opportunities for people to use that system sustainably,” says climate scientist Hans-Otto Pörtner of the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany. Pörtner co-chaired the scientific steering committee for the workshop that produced the report. But he continues, if you create a monoculture, “there’s only one use. And then, if that crop you’re using there has a disaster, you lose that purpose altogether.”

Monoculture is less resistant to the devastation of a single disaster – such as a wildfire – or the slower, continuing stress of climate change. “When trees are stressed and somewhat weak, they tend to be quite vulnerable, for example, to insect attacks and other types of disease,” says report co-author Almuth Arneth, a modeling expert at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany. . And if this species was largely alone, stressed and dying, the whole new forest was now gone.


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Biodiversity is a kind of insurance policy against this. A naturally growing forest has a greater diversity of species, and some are better off surviving a one-off disaster, or withstanding constant stresses such as rising temperatures and severe droughts. Resilience is built into the ecosystem, because it has been operating for thousands or even millions of years. Its higher survival odds also mean it has a better chance of retaining all the sequestered carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere and preventing further global warming.

The study’s authors wrote that stopping human attacks on ecosystems could also help combat climate change. Drying agricultural wetlands kills species and disrupts an important process of carbon sequestration. Slash-and-burn cultivation in the tropics ignites carbon underground known as peatAnd the who shoots Stunning amounts of greenhouse gases. (Yes, not only peat something in the arctic.) Protecting coastal mangrove forests comes with an especially long list of co-benefits, the report notes: They sequester four times as much carbon per area as a rainforest, are home to a wide range of species, and act as a buffer that absorbs storm energy.

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