Climate Feedback

A force to fight global warming

Olive Heffernan

<img alt=“cover_nature2.jpg” src=“http://blogs.nature.com/climatefeedback/cover_nature2.jpg” width=“150” height=“198” align=“right” hspace=“10px”//>This week’s Nature [subscription required] is the third in a series of special issues celebrating the life of Charles Darwin. It focuses on the dire challenges to Earth’s biodiversity — and finds some reason for hope.

Among the numerous biodiversity-related contributions is an opinion piece by Will Turner of Conservation International with Michael Oppenheimer and David S. Wilcove of Princeton University. They argue that natural ecosystems offer some of our greatest tools in mitigating climate change and, as such, must be made a bulwark against climate change, rather than a casualty of it. They write:

REDD is just one of many possible ways to exploit the potential of natural ecosystems to slow climate change and lessen its effects on people. Natural habitats are a hugely valuable tool in the fight against global warming. Use them wisely and they could save many lives and vast sums of money in the decades to come. Abuse them, and much of Earth’s biodiversity could be lost, along with the fight against climate change. Urgent action is needed to understand how best to exploit this promise and develop mechanisms that can be woven into the practices of governments, corporations, communities and institutions worldwide.

Turner and co-authors say that natural ecosystems are a clear mitigation option because of their sequestration potential, but also because “the maintenance and restoration of natural habitats are among the cheapest, safest and easiest solutions at our disposal in the effort to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and promote adaptation to unavoidable changes”. See the full article here.

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