How to Fight Climate Change and Increase Resiliency, Naturally

Five actions governments could take quickly to reduce emissions and restore ecosystems.

August 16, 2021, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Natural Resources Conservation Service's Wetlands Reserve Program

Gary Kramer, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service / Wikimedia Commons

As climate change poses an increasingly urgent threat, writes Zak Smith, "[t]he United States and other countries can immediately expand investment and support for natural climate solutions that provide the triple benefit of reducing emissions, taking carbon out of the atmosphere, and increasing the resiliency of the natural world." Focusing on restoration and resilience will put ecosystems "in a better position to withstand climate change impacts, which means they’ll be more likely to continue providing the foundational natural building blocks we rely upon for human life, like clean air, clean water, food security, and flood control."

Natural climate solutions, argues Smith, "provide an opportunity to bring everyone to the table. To avoid the mistakes of the past, we must include the voices of communities that have been and will be disproportionately burdened by the impacts of climate change and the industries creating our global warming nightmare."

Smith suggests five actions that can be taken immediately:

  1. Protect the ocean, "our best ally in combating climate change."
  2. Protect forests. Smith argues that because "countries in the Global North are driving some of the fastest primary forest loss in the world," they must "look beyond tree planting and protect the carbon-rich forests and trees already playing such an important role in the climate fight."
  3. "Embrace regenerative agriculture" and create more sustainable food systems.
  4. Acknowledge the importance of wetlands and take steps to protect them.
  5. Dedicate more land area to nature. " If we conserve enough representative ecosystems, we can reverse terrestrial biodiversity loss, limit future carbon emissions from land conversions, and bolster natural carbon removal."

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