Climate change and biodiversity loss are two interrelated crises: storms and wildlife are on the rise, with more than a million species at risk of extinction.
Solutions are not small or simple, but they do exist, scientists say.
A global road map, published Wednesday in Nature, identifies ways to steep nearly half of the carbon dioxide built up after the Industrial Revolution and avoid more than 70 percent of the predicted animal and plant extinction on land. The key? Returning strategy to 30 percent of the world’s farms in nature.
That could happen, researchers have found, while preserving an abundant food supply for the people and also staying within the time frame for raising global temperatures from the last 2 degrees Celsius, which is a high goal of the Paris Agreement.
One of the study’s authors was Bernardo B.N., an environmental scientist at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and the International Institute for Sustainability. “This is one of the most effective ways to combat climate change,” Strasberg said. “And that’s one of the most important ways to avoid global extinction.”
The researchers used a map from the European Space Agency to break up the Earth’s surface into a grid of parcels classified by an ecosystem: forests, wetlands, shrubs, grasslands and arid regions. Using the algorithm they developed, the scientists assessed which swaths, if returned to their natural states, would receive the most compensation at the lowest cost to reduce climate change and the loss of biodegradable iversity.
Simply putting one result on top of another was not enough. “If you really want to optimize for all three at the same time,” said Dr. Streisburg, “it leads to a different map.”
A similar and complementary tool, the Global Safety Net, was released last month. It identifies the most strategic 50 percent of the Earth for the protection of endangered species, high fielding, high biodiversity, vast mammal landscapes, intact wildlife and climate stability.
A growing number of expeditions are trying to meet the world’s environmental crisis by conserving or restoring the planet’s vast bottoms. The Bone Challenge aims to reclaim 350 million hectares by 2030. The campaign for nature is pushing leaders to protect 30 percent of the planet’s population by 2030.
In a recent study, scientists found that benefits increase and decrease depending on how much land is restored.
For example, abandoning 15 percent of strategic farms could result in 60 percent extinction and 30 percent of built-up carbon in the atmosphere. The authors estimate that globally, 55 percent of arable land could be returned to nature while maintaining existing levels of food production by using existing agricultural lands more efficiently and sustainably.
“It’s really impressive,” said Virginia Tech’s environmental restoration expert. Said Layton Reed, who was not involved in the study. “The authors do a good job of acknowledging some of the limitations of the work at the time when they are proposing this big vision.”
The biggest challenge is political will and finding money to pay farmers to restore so much land to nature. But the authors point to hundreds of billions or trillions of dollars each year that subsidize fossil fuels and volatile farming methods.
“There’s a lot of money available for investment,” said Robin Chazden, a longtime biologist at the University of Connecticut and one of the study’s authors. “The world is invested in destruction.”
The study was requested by the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity, a global treaty aimed at conserving biodiversity. One of the authors, David Cooper, is its Deputy Executive Secretary.
A recent report from the summit showed that world leaders have failed to meet their ultimate goals. The United States is the only state in the world that has not signed the treaty, except the Vatican.
The study will be used to inform the United Nations on biodiversity and global commitments at next year’s climate conventions. But because the new study highlights nature’s disregard for national borders, it presents a diplomatic challenge.
“If you ignore the country’s borders and just look at where these priorities are, this gives a higher benefit overall,” said Dr. Said Chazdo. The most strategic locations are very unevenly distributed; Tropical forests and wetlands, for example, have external potential for carbon storage and biodiversity conservation.
“Are we saying, ‘We’ll just undo all those benefits and be provincial about this?'” He asked. “Or are there ways to collaborate internationally?”
The authors note that the conservation of existing wildlife is the most important way to conserve biodiversity and view their proposed restoration as a critical addition. Essential. Other essential steps listed in the Strasbourg are: stop using fossil fuels; Reducing food, energy and plastic waste; And make sustainable choices when buying things like food, cars and clothing.
“Once customers start changing their patterns, companies respond really quickly,” he said.