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Every year we all read articles about how the planet is edging ever nearer to a climate apocalypse when the sea levels will rise, hurricanes will be deadlier, drought will ravage the world and fires will devour the remaining wilderness. It’s easy to read these pieces and have a sudden urge to do better in your day to day life but it’s hard to actually do. Within days you’ll have forgotten about the impending doom and dismiss it all as a future problem that you don’t have time to worry about now. Unfortunately, this future problem is already having an impact that we don’t see on the news very often. David Attenborough’s most recent series ‘A Perfect Planet’ showcased yet again how breathtaking and beautiful Earth is but he also demonstrated the many ways in which the animal kingdom is suffering too.
Attenborough’s series was keen to emphasise the work that many charities and groups are doing to combat the climate crisis around the world. There is still time to take drastic action to change our situation for the better. The ‘Great Green Wall’ is an ambitious project currently being carried out in Africa which will be revolutionary when completed. The plan is to build an 8,000km wall of trees and plants across the width of Africa and is being planted in the Sahel region, if finished it will become the largest living structure on the planet. The project is currently 15% complete and aims to provide food security, jobs and stability for all those that live along its path. It’s impacts could reassure millions in the region that there are ways to tackle climate change, drought and famine if action is taken now. Since the launch of the project in 2007 many communities from Senegal to Djibouti are taking part and working with nature to stabilise the region. By 2030 the wall aims to create 10 million jobs and restore 100 million hectares of currently degraded land. There is a fantastic website you can visit to learn more and help raise awareness of the project.
Planting more trees and plants around the world is a project that we can all get on board with. Reducing the levels of carbon being released into the atmosphere is vital to stopping significant temperature changes from occurring. As the world temperature rises wildfires will become even more frequent, from 1985 to 2015 climate change has dried out forest fuels to such an extent that one study showed the number of large forest fires in the western US has doubled. That trend will undoubtedly be similar in many aspects of the world as we have seen violent fires in Australia and the Amazon in recent years. Living in the UK means that wildfires simply don’t effect us directly but they are having a significant impact on the animal populations in the forests and woodland.
One thing that many in the UK will have noticed is the number of storms we seem to be experiencing that have come across the Atlantic from the US. While it is currently easy to dismiss these weather events as inconvenient they are just a precursor for what will happen if we don’t support projects like the ‘Great Green Wall’ and Conservation International.
Conservation International was founded in 1987 and works to secure the critical benefits that nature gives to society. They have several key priorities which include protecting nature, the oceans and sustainable lands and water.
On their website the group highlights that one in three people in the world lack safe access to water, one billion people are reliant on forests for their livelihoods and that seventy five percent of the world’s poor rely on agriculture for their living. Protecting land from overfarming is not just about protecting the land itself but those people who rely on it. Conservation International works to provide governments with cutting-edge science to help them make sound policy decisions that prioritise conservation, sustainability and human well-being.
We have around ten years to drastically cut our greenhouse gas emissions and currently nature based solutions only receive three percent of global climate funding. The solutions which governments are looking for do not involve reinvigorating degraded land but instead relying on renewable energy. Conservation International think that natural solutions alone could get thirty percent of the way towards tackling the climate crisis and while doing so provide many additional benefits- from filtering fresh water to providing breathable air. The group currently has 29 offices around the world and works with 2,000 partners worldwide. They work with indigenous communities to ensure that the land which they manage remains as biodiverse as it is currently (indigenous people manage only 20% of the world’s land but the land they manage has 80% of global biodiversity). It’s groups like Conservation International that deserve more attention and support.
Hopefully this isn’t one of those pieces that describe an unstoppable impending doom and that’s because this isn’t inevitable. There are steps we can all take that can make a difference and there are organisations which are tirelessly working for solutions to maintain the planet for future generations. Simply spreading awareness of projects like the ‘Great Green Wall’ can dispel some of the gloom surrounding the issue as a lost cause. Ambitious projects are being put in place and can succeed with enough funding and support. By spreading the word it is more likely that governments and corporations will take notice and lend the initiatives their support. The climate crisis is a serious issue but there are ways to stop it. David Attenborough’s warnings haven’t fallen on deaf ears and a new generation of activists are stepping up to champion the environmental cause. There are so many reasons why we should all get involved and help cut down on our waste and carbon emissions, let’s not be another generation that ignored it as a problem for the future. There won’t be a green future if we do.