Climate change changes habitats, intensifying the effects of climate change, leading to biodiversity loss across many ecosystems. To tackle one challenge, we must tackle both.
Climate change significantly impacts the survival rate of plant and animal species. Our changing climate and resulting weather extremes make many species’ natural habitats hostile or uninhabitable, causing biodiversity loss and accelerating our rate of climate change.
Different species fulfill important roles in every ecosystem. In ecosystems that have a variety of species that can do any given function, the ecosystem is more resilient - it’s able to respond to disturbances like disease or fire without totally collapsing. What looks like redundancy is insurance.
Ecosystems with limited diversity, including monocultures, are more prone to disease and other disasters than natural ones.
For too long ecosystems have been treated like machines that will continue to work so long as basic conditions are met. For example, if we deem one species as undesirable, we remove that species and replace it with commercially valuable species that can be harvested at constant, more predictable rates. Yet this ignores the complexity of nature and the importance of biodiversity, resulting in catastrophic consequences.
We degrade our biodiversity through urbanization, pollution, deforestation, etc., and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating.
“With biodiversity loss, we not only lose nature, but we also lose some of our best defenses against climate change,’ said Myron Peck, who leads the Department of Coastal Systems at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ).
“Our oceans, forests, peat bogs, and wetlands all act as natural carbon sinks, absorbing harmful carbon from the atmosphere.”
To tackle climate change, we must also tackle biodiversity loss.
We see this relationship firsthand with our work in regenerative agriculture. Soils that support diverse ecosystems, as Andy Hector recently reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, can “generate soils that are richer in plant nutrients and more productive in plant biomass and that store more carbon.”
The more carbon we can capture and store in the soil, the more the Earth can regulate GHG levels in the atmosphere, leading to a more stable climate.
Biodiversity is the backbone of the continued existence of our species and planet. Remove the backbone, and everything crumbles - our climate, food systems, weather, economies, communities, and ways of life.
Humans depend on the functions performed by diverse ecosystems. They produce oxygen, purify and detoxify the air and water, store and cycle fresh water, form topsoil, prevent erosion, regulate the climate, and produce raw materials, foods, and medicines.
Technology can’t outcompete nature because technology depends on nature.
Some economic and social arguments further illustrate the importance of biodiversity:
Plants, animals, and people have value in and of themselves, and preserving biodiversity not only mitigates climate change but is also an important investment in our future.
Regenerative practices not only increase the health of our soil and land, but also attract more biodiversity, build climate resilience, manage our GHG levels, and slow the rate of climate change.
More corporations today are recognizing the impact of regenerative agriculture for their carbon drawdown capabilities, and, in turn, financially supporting farmers to adopt such practices, and over 100 countries have laws or policies in place that require or enable the use of biodiversity offsets.
If we continue to encourage and support the transition to regenerative agriculture, we can indeed tackle climate change and biodiversity loss simultaneously.
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