Nature-based solutions harness the power of nature to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also help us adapt to the impacts of climate change. They are win-win solutions that involve protecting, restoring and sustainably managing ecosystems to address society’s challenges and promote human well-being.
Forests are probably the most well-known nature-based solution for climate change, but there are many more – including peatlands, mangroves, wetlands, savannahs, coral reefs and other landscapes.
More and more NGOs, Activists and Educational Institutions are advocating for this concept, as a viable and powerful solution to tackle climate change and ecosystem collapse. This is the case of The Biomimicry Institute, a non-profit organization that equips people with a process to create nature-inspired solutions for a healthy planet.
In a 9 chapters series, the Biomimicry Institute showcases how innovators from around the world are learning from nature to solve global challenges. At The Global School for Social Leaders, we love these amazing NGOs bringing great solutions with powerful messages:
1. How marine habitats are informing new concrete designs.
ECOncrete offers products that facilitate the growth and regeneration of local marine species and strengthen structures over time through a process known as bio-protection. Inspired by beach rock formations, coral polyps, oyster shells, mangrove roots, and other marine habitats and life forms, ECOncrete embodies biomimicry’s design intention: to learn from and mimic forms and processes found in nature to create regenerative solutions. Nature-Based Solutions:
2. How butterflies inspired a new type of paint.
Cypris Materials has developed a tunable structural colour coating that can be applied directly to surfaces as a paint. Their technology can improve the building and automobile energy efficiency by reflecting UV, visible, and infrared light, and it expands the available colour pallet while eliminating the use of toxic pigments and colourants. Nature-Based Solutions:
3. How trees inspired a new way to dispose of human waste.
change:WATER Labs (cWL) has developed a new way to dispose of human waste – by evaporating out the water! This technology emerged from work done for NASA on wastewater recycling on the International Space Station and is now being deployed in off-grid rural communities and refugee communities. Nature-Based Solutions:
This week looking for interesting readings, we find this piece that has motivated us to publish in our blog, the author Christiana Figueres, Former Executive Secretary of the Convention on Climate Change of the United Nations, Founding Partner of Global Optimism, Co-host of Outrage And Optimism podcast and Co-author of “The Future We Choose”. In this post Christiana, gives an interesting analysis about the situation of climate change and the effects it will have for the year 2050.
We are heading for a world that will be more than 3C warmer by 2100.
It is 2050. Beyond the emissions reductions registered in 2015, no further efforts were made to control emissions.
The first thing that hits you is the air. In many places around the world, the air is hot, heavy and, depending on the day, clogged with particulate pollution. Your eyes often water. Your cough never seems to disappear. You think about some countries in Asia, where, out of consideration, sick people used to wear white masks to protect others from airborne infection. Now you often wear a mask to protect yourself from air pollution.
You can no longer simply walk out your front door and breathe fresh air: there might not be any. Instead, before opening doors or windows in the morning, you check your phone to see what the air quality will be.
Fewer people work outdoors and even indoors the air can taste slightly acidic, sometimes making you feel nauseated. The last coal furnaces closed 10 years ago, but that hasn’t made much difference in air quality around the world because you are still breathing dangerous exhaust fumes from millions of cars and buses everywhere. Our world is getting hotter. Over the next two decades, projections tell us that temperatures in some areas of the globe will rise even higher, an irreversible development now utterly beyond our control.
Oceans, forests, plants, trees and soil had for many years absorbed half the carbon dioxide we spewed out. Now there are few forests left, most of them either logged or consumed by wildfire, and the permafrost is belching greenhouse gases into an already overburdened atmosphere.
The increasing heat of the Earth is suffocating us and in five to 10 years, vast swaths of the planet will be increasingly inhospitable to humans. We don’t know how hospitable the arid regions of Australia, South Africa and the western United States will be by 2100.
No one knows what the future holds for their children and grandchildren: tipping point after the tipping point is being reached, casting doubt on the form of future civilization.
Some say that humans will be cast to the winds again, gathering in small tribes, hunkered down and living on whatever patch of land might sustain them.
More moisture in the air and higher sea surface temperatures have caused a surge in extreme hurricanes and tropical storms.
Recently, coastal cities in Bangladesh, Mexico, the United States and elsewhere have suffered brutal infrastructure destruction and extreme flooding, killing many thousands and displacing millions.
This happens with increasing frequency now. Every day, because of rising water levels, some part of the world must evacuate to higher ground.
Every day, the news shows images of mothers with babies strapped to their backs, wading through floodwaters and homes ripped apart by vicious currents that resemble mountain rivers.
News stories tell of people living in houses with water up to their ankles because they have nowhere else to go, their children coughing and wheezing because of the mould growing in their beds, insurance companies declaring bankruptcy, leaving survivors without resources to rebuild their lives.
Contaminated water supplies, sea salt intrusions and agricultural runoff are the order of the day. Because multiple disasters are often happening simultaneously, it can take weeks or even months for basic food and water relief to reach areas pummelled by extreme floods.
Diseases such as malaria, dengue, cholera, respiratory illnesses and malnutrition are rampant.
You try not to think about the 2 billion people who live in the hottest parts of the world, where, for upwards of 45 days per year, temperatures skyrocket to 60C (140F), a point at which the human body cannot be outside for longer than about six hours because it loses the ability to cool itself down.
Places such as central India are becoming increasingly challenging to inhabit. Mass migrations to less hot rural areas are beset by a host of refugee problems, civil unrest and bloodshed over diminished water availability.
Food production swings wildly from month to month, season to season, depending on where you live. More people are starving than ever before. Climate zones have shifted, so some new areas have become available for agriculture (Alaska, the Arctic), while others have dried up (Mexico, California).
Still, others are unstable because of the extreme heat, never mind flooding, wildfire and tornadoes. This makes the food supply in general highly unpredictable. Global trade has slowed as countries seek to hold on to their own resources.
Countries with enough food are resolute about holding on to it. As a result, food riots, coups and civil wars are throwing the world’s most vulnerable from the frying pan into the fire. As developed countries seek to seal their borders from mass migration, they too feel the consequences.
Most countries’ armies are now just highly militarised border patrols. Some countries are letting people in, but only under conditions approaching indentured servitude.
Those living within stable countries may be physically safe, yes, but the psychological toll is mounting. With each new tipping point passed, they feel hope slipping away. There is no chance of stopping the runaway warming of our planet and no doubt we are slowly but surely heading towards some kind of collapse. And not just because it’s too hot.
Melting permafrost is also releasing ancient microbes that today’s humans have never been exposed to and, as a result, have no resistance to.
Diseases spread by mosquitoes and ticks are rampant as these species flourish in the changed climate, spreading to previously safe parts of the planet, increasingly overwhelming us. Worse still, the public health crisis of antibiotic resistance has only intensified as the population has grown denser in inhabitable areas and temperatures continue to rise.
The demise of the human species is being discussed more and more. For many, the only uncertainty is how long we’ll last, how many more generations will see the light of day. Suicides are the most obvious manifestation of the prevailing despair, but there are other indications: a sense of bottomless loss, unbearable guilt and fierce resentment at previous generations who didn’t do what was necessary to ward off this unstoppable calamity.
This is an edited extract from The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, published by Manilla Press (£12.99). To order a copy go to guardianbookshop.com. Free UK p&p over £15
I don’t want to simply dismiss Greta haters as a bunch of old white guys who taunt her “weird looking face with weird voice” like bullies on a playground.
There are also many serious environmental advocates who worry that Greta is simply projecting “anti” messages. That “resistance is futile.” That the strikes around the world, inspired by her, are wasted effort. That only direct change in “The System” matters.
In my career as an environmental activist at JUCCCE, I have decided very consciously not to protest anything. Not to strike. Not to be against people.
Only to provide solutions and align incentives, like a management consultant working with decision-makers. This has worked well for me in China. So to-date, I was both in admiration of Greta’s persistence and also not very engaged in participating in the strikes.
Today, as we head into UN Climate Action Week, I want to make a stronger stand to support Greta by helping people understand the deeper consequences of what she has activated in the world.
What people see as organizing “resistance,” I see as Greta tapping into her extraordinary inner strength to “draw strong boundaries.” She is holding her own to show that she does not subscribe to the current system, to the false hope of capitalism, to false practices that separate us from nature.
She is at once allowing these to exist, and at the same time creating an unbreakable container of her truth.
Her truth is her knowledge of the Earth we could be living on, and of the world, she wants to live in. This truth, like a jar full of fireflies, shines brightly and transparently. This brilliant light is what has attracted the attention of people around the world.
Some people see her as a “tool being used as a puppet” by billionaires. I see that her light has attracted a lot of unwelcome bugs, but that her truth jar is impenetrable from outside forces. I see a human whose belief in her essential nature has allowed her to say “NO” very clearly to these forces.
She is teaching us how to say “NO” while allowing these people to exist. Greta knows exactly what she is doing. We need not worry about her falling prey as a victim to corporates or bullies or puppeteers. Nor do we need to be her savior.
These people say she is not advocating for “real” change, but instead supporting light solutions that tweak, but do not transform the System. They say she is just a greenwasher.
But Greta is not responsible for our reality. Only you are responsible for your reality. Only I am responsible for creating my own reality. We are all culprits in creating this collective reality.
Greta is simply holding up a lighted magnifying mirror to our own faces, to trigger us into more action ourselves. Instead of asking “is Greta doing enough of the right thing?” let us ask ourselves “our we doing enough of the right thing?”
Some people see a child who is ungrateful for education, and they wish that she would have more respect for teachers. I see a human who is practicing the pinnacle of life education: teach learn, learn teach.
She has started a global conversation that children are now having as peers with adults, and that adults need to learn to have with children.
That’s why I love watching Greta and George Monbiot side-by-side, as child and elder, putting out a call for all of us to protect “the magic of trees”.
What some people see as a child, I see as an old soul who has tapped into the very nature of the Universe. She is a very grounded old soul who, despite her Aspergers, is anchored enough in her body to communicate and relate to regular human beings.
In fact, I surmise it is exactly due to her Aspergers that she is able to see more clearly than the majority of humans. Being on the spectrum has definitely allowed her to channel her tremendous energy in a focused manner.
If I were to have one wish for the continued rise of Greta, it would be to have all further dialogue with her in spaces of nature. Forests are her stadiums.
Animals are her cheerleaders. Oceans are her magic carpet. She needs to regenerate her strength from nature, and Nature draws strength from her.
Nature is the only protector she needs from negative forces. Earth is the conductor of her light. Let us continue to commune with Greta in nature.
The inner strength she has shown in holding space for all of us is magnificent. By activating herself, her truth, her light, she has enabled other humans around the world to activate each other.
More children will start to use platforms in this way and command their own space. At the end of the video “Nature Now,”
She ends with the most important lesson for all humans: that “Everything counts. What you do, counts.” She’s trying to get us to “wake up” to the fact that all humans matter. Young or old, humble or powerful, we can manifest the world we want.
By Peggy Liu with Chloe Hudson
Peggy Liu is an environmentalist. www.juccce.org, www.foodheroes.org
Chloe Hudson is an intuitive healer. www.worldpeaceprojects.global
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