Monday, December 15, 2014
Exploring the promise of restoring ecosystems to reverse global warming
by Adam D. Sacks |Executive Director | Biodiversity for a Livable Climate
On November 21-23, 2014 at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, USA, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate (Bio4Climate) presented its ground-breaking (no pun intended) conference, Restoring Ecosystems to Reverse Global Warming. Building upon the improvements and tolerances found within ‘conventional’ mitigation and adaptation, it was one of the first gatherings anywhere based on the assertion that reversing humanity’s perturbation of the climate system might even be a possibility.
In support, we assembled an impressive roster of speakers in science and land management, followed with discussions by seasoned activists on how to further implement these approaches. Over the two-and-a-half days of presentations, the gathering made the case that:
- Emissions reductions, whilst still more necessary and urgent than they’ve ever been, are increasingly likely to be insufficient to address the climate crisis;
- Soils are the world’s largest terrestrial carbon sink; and soils have lost more carbon to the atmosphere from human misuse since the advent of agriculture than is currently resident therein from the burning of fossil fuels;
- Ecosystem-restoration can occur surprisingly quickly when essential species missing due to our mismanagement are returned and biodiversity can be restored;
- Biodiversity is at the heart of healthy ecosystem function and when species are interacting as nature intended, water cycles are re-established and drought is reversed; carbon cycles nourish and aerate the soils; food production can expand and quality improves; and human health and local economies reach levels often not seen in decades or longer.
“Biodiversity is at the heart of healthy ecosystem function”
Over 300 attendees were surprised and gratified to see hope on the otherwise often gloomy climate front – for the first time in years. Many were overheard saying that this was the best conference they’d ever attended, and the possibilities had given them new determination and energy (see the love letters on our conference web page). Bio4Climate is already helping local groups organize similar conferences this spring in Fall River and Cambridge, Massachusetts, Washington, DC and the Midwest. Details will be available on our website as they become available.
In the meanwhile, you are cordially invited to watch the presentations online. Go to our program page to see the list of videos, or pick a playlist to watch each day as if you were there. The slideshows are also available for viewing and download.
Examples of the videos include an overview of carbon farming, a lucid and revealing explanation of the carbon cycle, some remarkable yet not uncommon instances of eco-restoration, a tour of the dramatic regeneration of grasslands in Zimbabwe, and a passionate declaration of indigenous determination by a Lakota grandmother to protect Mother Earth. And there are many more to enlighten and inspire, as we strive to turn this wayward climate ship around.
Adam D. Sacks is Executive Director of Biodiversity for a Livable Climate. Virgin Earth Challenge was a sponsor of the Restoring Ecosystems to Reverse Global Warming conference, along with VEC finalists The Savory Institute.
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