George Monbiot, writing in the Guardian, shares this compelling article with us. It should be a must read for all of our climate scientists and officials who can help to placate the eventual dilemma for all Earth inhabitants.
Rewild the World
By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 3rd April 2019
Natural climate solutions draw carbon from the air through the restoration of living systems. They could help to solve two existential problems at once: climate breakdown and ecological breakdown. Their likely contribution is enormous – bigger than almost anyone guessed a few years ago – and it is still scarcely explored.
The greatest potential identified so far – as so much land can be used this way – is in protecting and restoring natural forests and allowing native trees to repopulate deforested land. The greatest drawdown potential per hectare (though the total area is smaller) is the restoration of coastal habitats such as mangroves, saltmarsh and seagrass beds. They stash carbon 40 times faster than tropical forests can. Peaty soils are also vital carbon stores. They’re currently being oxidised by deforestation, drainage, drying, burning, farming and mining for gardening and fuel. Restoring peat, by blocking drainage channels and allowing natural vegetation to recover, can suck back much of what has been lost.
These are the best-studied natural climate solutions. Others have scarcely been explored. For example, we currently have little idea of what the impact of industrial fishing might be on the seabed’s vast carbon store. By disturbing the sediments and lifting the carbon they contain into the water column, trawlers and dredgers are likely to expose it to oxygen, turning it into carbon dioxide. One study suggests that repeated trawling in the north-western Mediterranean has caused a reduction in carbon storage in the top 10 centimetres of sediments of up to 52%. Given the vast area trawled every year (most of the seabed on the world’s continental shelves), the climate impact could be enormous. Closing large parts of the seas to trawling could turn out to be a crucial climate strategy.
Scientists have only recently begun to explore how the recovery of certain animal populations could radically change the carbon balance. For example, forest elephants and rhinos in Africa and Asia and tapirs in Brazil are natural foresters, maintaining and extending their habitats as they swallow the seeds of trees and spread them, sometimes across many miles, in their dung. White rhinos can play a major role in preventing runaway wildfires in African savannahs. If wolves were allowed to reach their natural populations in North America, one paper suggests, their suppression of herbivore populations would store as much carbon every year as between 30 and 70 million cars produce. Healthy populations of predatory crabs and fish protect the carbon in salt marshes, as they prevent herbivorous crabs and snails from wiping out the plants that hold the marshes together.
What I love about natural climate solutions is that we should be doing all these things anyway. Instead of making painful choices and deploying miserable means to a desirable end, we can defend ourselves from disaster by enhancing our world of wonders. However, nothing should be done without the involvement and consent of indigenous people and other local communities. Nor should damaging projects, such as monocultural plantations, be passed off as natural climate
Read the entire article: https://www.monbiot.com/2019/04/07/rewild-the-world/solutions.