October 01 2019 – Joseph Pearce
The Sept 20-27, Climate Strike 2019, lots of people rallied, thousands of companies committed to raise awareness, and the world (at least the western world) listened. Peak awareness for global warming is here. Documentaries like Chasing Coral illustrate that our current climate trajectory is bringing us face to face with worldwide environmental disaster which eventually will not spare it's main culprit, humans. Soon the Climate strike may fade. Lots of inspiring leaders will have been spoken. People will be provoked and motivated, but essential action, to the level that we need it may will still be elusive. However, there is much to do and so much that we are completely capable of doing.... such as:
Support others who plant (many) trees
According to research by Scientific American there are about 3 trillion trees on this earth, however 12,000 years ago, before the advent of agriculture, Earth had twice as many trees as it does now. Currently, our planet is losing 10 billion* trees a year. Forests can stop runaway global heating, encourage rainfall, guarantee clean water, reduce air pollution, and provide livelihoods for local people and reserves for rare wildlife.
To keep it simple “Nature-based solutions” involve working to replant trees to restore natural habitat. This action has the potential to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 12 gigatons each year. This is roughly equal to emissions from all the world’s coal fired plants. It is important to keep in mind, if we don’t act on nature now, then nature’s ability to protect humanity will diminish even more. We need politicians to wake up to the natural climate solutions.
Groups all over the world, many of them supporting impoverished communities are answering the call and currently working to plant and nurture trees. One such group is Tree Sisters, that supports women, “Agro-foresters”. Since 2016 they've funded the planting of over 6 million trees.
“We have to make it as natural to give back to nature as it is to take nature for granted,” Founder and CEO Clare Dubois says, musing on the need to “shift from a consumer species to a restorer species”. It may be difficult to measure awareness, but planting trees can easily be quantified. As Dubois puts it: “It’s tangible, it’s simple, it’s life-giving.”
Another inspiring agent for change is Steve Fitch and the team at Eden Reforestation Projects. In the project’s first year, eight people planted 100,000 mangroves. Now Eden employs more than 1,000 people to plant trees, with 225 million new mangrove trees planted since 2006 (Mangroves capture 4x the CO2 as rainforests) “Our goal is twofold: reforestation and poverty alleviation,” says Jamie Shattenberg, international director of Eden Reforestation Projects, Madagascar. “If you’re going to do reforestation and you ignore the human issue – poverty – it’s difficult to find success, because the forest is what people turn to last if they have no other sustainable livelihood.”
Help preserve old trees or plant new ones
Any tree is a good tree, however douglas-fir, spruce, true fir, beech, and maple are toward the top of the list for oxygen release according to sources at UC Berkeley. The oxygen release is proportional to the trees' leaf mass and older trees release more oxygen. So help protect, preserve and nurture those large trees that you may’ve even grown up around.
Support coral gardeners Local around the world
From Bali https://oceangardener.org and Tahiti https://www.coralgardeners.org to Florida https://www.coralrestoration.org/get-involved "Coral Gardeners" are working hard to reverse the accelerating trend of dying reefs. Ocean “heat waves” are happening more often, lasting loner, and becoming more sever. The obvious remedies are to reduce carbon emissions into the air and nitrogen and other pollutants into the ocean. Also blast fishing, cyanide fishing and overfishing in general exacerbate the problems. However, breakthroughs such as microfragmenting are allowing Dr. David Vaughan and his team at Plantamillioncorals.org to be able to reproduce thousands of fast growing & resilient corals that can help to recover the lost reefs.
Purchase products that give back to nature
Clare Dubois of Tree Sisters calls it “a kickback to nature”. Wherein everything we buy must also include a portion that goes towards restoring original habitats. One Percent for the Planet, an organization started by Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia has similar goals and to date has certified over $225 million towards nonprofit organizations. It’s up to us consumers to be a little more diligent and research the intentions of the companies that we buy products from.
A few statistics: 2 in 3 Americans are overweight, Agriculture is responsible for about one-tenth of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. and Farming consumes more than two-thirds of the planet’s fresh water.
Use less plastic - reduce, reuse
Number one and two most polluting countries are China who produces the most and the US who consumes the most. Just two countries, China and the US, are responsible for more than 40% of the world’s CO2 emissions.
We are in a period of global emergency, but also in a period of unprecedented momentum. Young people are holding us to account, and every week a government somewhere in the world, is committing to climate action. Nature-based solutions are immediately available, cost-effective and can be scaled up depending on need. Every country in the world can act now.