Finding Harmony with Nature to Ward off Climate Change
Combat Climate Change Today
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Utilizing nature as our inspiration and driving force behind climate action has always been a core principle behind SOHP. But this week, we’re discussing utilizing nature as a way to combat climate change and our own less-than-healthy relationship with the natural world.
Balancing Nature and Our Modern World
Warding off Climate Change by Finding Harmony with Nature
Last November, I found myself exploring one of the most biologically diverse corners of the planet, the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. My trip was anchored to the Aguila de Osa Rainforest & Marine Adventure Lodge in the town of Bahía Drake, which is nuzzled between the Parque Nacional Corcovado and miles of pristine coastline with a population of no more than 1000 residents speckled throughout. With the goal of simply paying witness to the world’s natural splendor, I embraced every sighting of capuchin monkeys, whimsical hummingbirds, and even the deadly Fer de Lance snake. However, I was fully taken aback when on an evening stroll from the beach back to my lodgings, I heard a large rustle in the field to my right when low and behold a majestic tapir crossed my path. Honestly, my previous unfamiliarity with tapirs rendered me a little scared of what this cross between an elephant and an ant-eater might have in store for me. But it simply continued on its journey paying me no mind.
At the communal dinner that night, I shared this sighting with a table full of marine biologists, naturalists, and avid bird watchers all of who were shocked at this rare sighting. The local guide at dinner went on to explain that in the untouched national park the tapirs have set paths and patterns making them easy to spot. But within the town, the human population is disruptive to the tapir’s way of life, so you never know if or when one might be spotted.
I was shocked. The tiny, open air, rustic cottages, and simply our presence at large were so disruptive to the wildlife that they didn’t have a routine within the space. I grew disheartened thinking back to New York City, where I live, and how catastrophically disruptive to nature that must be. If our modern life is this troublesome, our solutions to climate change might also be too. One marine biologist on the trip described her primary project of examing how the installation of offshore wind turbines affects marine mammals. Long story short, the noise from drilling can throw off their echolocation.
Are we at odds with nature?
Finding balance and harmony with nature has always been an innately human struggle. In more ancient times it was the challenge of surviving out in the element, and now it’s making sure that we don’t destroy nature in pursuit of our ever-expanding comfort. Keeping in mind just how acutely nature must adjust to our presence, many questions arise on the journey to a more sustainable future. What does a just, balanced, transition to greener life look like for humans? Do our greener solutions solve one problem while causing another? Is transitioning from one method of extraction and consumption to another an actual solution? These are the questions we must always ask ourselves, our political leaders, and energy corporations.
Hope in a Patch Grass
While back in NYC, I found some solace on a walk through Brooklyn Bridge Park. Since moving to Brooklyn six years, I have watched the trees slowly grow well above my head. What was previously an industrial wasteland just 10 years ago is now a haven for both humans and more than 120 types of birds. If this sliver of 85 acres nestled between Manhattan’s jutting skylines and Brooklyn’s cozy brownstones can become such a biodiverse hotspot with the carbon sequestration potentiality of thousands of pounds per year, then think about the possibilities if we put a little effort behind making the world a little greener. What if we made nature our solution?
What are Nature-Based Solutions?
Nature-based solutions are sustainable planning, design, environmental management, and engineering practices that weave natural features or processes into the built environment to promote adaptation and resilience. Indigenous peoples have used nature-based solutions for millennia. A UN report recently found that nature conservation funding must triple globally this decade. These solutions use natural features and processes to:
Combat climate change
Reduce flood risk
Improve water quality
Protect coastal property
Restore and protect wetlands
Reduce urban heat
Add recreational space
“While traditional conservation focuses on protecting nature from influences, nature-based solutions help address social challenges and safeguard our society,” - Steward Maginnis, Deputy Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Overall, nature-based solutions are a way for us to coordinate and harmonize with nature to help combat climate change while supporting modern lifestyles and minimizing additional risk to the planet. While these solutions must go hand in hand with decreased consumption, they are a fantastic piece to the climate change mitigation puzzle.
Three Examples of Nature-Based Solutions
And How to Support Them
1. Restoring and protecting forests and wetlands
Protecting or restoring forests and wetlands can regulate water supplies and protect communities from floods, soil erosion, and landslides.
2. Expanding Nature in Cities
Creating parks, planting trees, and greening roofs in cities can moderate the impacts of heatwaves, capture stormwater and reduce pollution.
3. Restoring Coastal Habitats
Protecting and restoring coastal ecosystems (mangroves, reefs, and salt marshes) protects communities from storm surges and erosion and sequesters carbon, contributing to climate change mitigation.
Some Rays of Sunshine
Headlines We’re Happy to See
Kigali summit is the first Africa-wide meeting to set out plans to halt and reverse habitat and species loss in protected areas on land and sea. - Read More
Determined to protect 30 percent of its terrestrial, freshwater, and marine habitats, Gabon, Africa is emerging as a conservation leader. - Read More
A new study out of China examined the value of nature-based solutions and calls for more robust policy, financial support, and broader application. - Read More
Science-based water conservation ordinance passed for San Germino Valley, CA is a win for the environment and salmon population. - Read More
Maryland to establish a new Office of Resilience to better prepare the state for climate change and natural disaster impacts. - Read More
U.S. House passes a major wildlife conservation spending bill. - Read More
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