Boosting biodiversity is widely seen as a vital part of climate action. Damage caused to biodiversity and ecosystems is becoming increasingly visible. Climate change’s momentous impact on this planet’s species is widely acknowledged in the sustainability sector, and is becoming a growing focus within decision-making processes that determine the future of climate action. This rising push for action is culminating in the development of various plans and initiatives. COP27 saw a huge focus on biodiversity, and COP15, happening these next two weeks, will develop and determine the Global Biodiversity Framework for governments and companies, promoting the idea of “nature-positive.” Not only is biodiversity current news, but it is also incredibly interesting. So this blog series delves into the colorful world of biodiversity and unveils some of its secrets.
Often, when talking about climate change, we have an imagined line that represents a healthy planet, and anything above or below this explains the damage climate change is causing. Let’s call this line the equilibrium. The equilibrium is disturbed by increasing factors such as increased sea levels, increased extinction levels and increased emissions. It is simultaneously disturbed by decreasing factors, such as decreased forest cover, declining corals and declining environmental protections in developing countries. All of these disturbances produce a net-negative impact on our climate, which is comprised not only of climatic disturbances, but an intricate web of negative impacts on biodiversity and in turn, ecosystems. Quantifying these can be incredibly effective in measuring and understanding what is happening around the world regarding climate change and where the focus is needed regarding climate action.
We know we need to stop deforestation and restore degraded land by planting healthy, diverse resilient forests. We also know that we need to reduce emissions by 2050 to prevent global warming from exceeding 1.5 degrees. We know that biodiversity is on an unhealthy decline and we need to focus our attention on protecting species that nurture ecosystem health. However, we also need to be careful not to look at these issues through a tunneled vision. These three points actually need to be looked at in a holistic way to ensure that climate action hits the spot. Interestingly, a lot of what we need to do actually starts with biodiversity. The health of the planet seems to be reflected in how healthy life on that planet is.
Biodiversity is by no means a new topic of conversation. David Attenborough first presented the documentary “Zoo Quest” in 1954, later realizing his goal of presenting the series “Life on Earth” in 1979, where he was able to make a large-scale natural history program using the latest technology. This sparked an interest for many in the natural world, showing parts of nature that had not been seen but for those lucky enough to travel the far corners of the earth. In 1962 Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, the first book to outline the powerful, albeit negative effect humanity has on the natural world and environment. In 1977, A Nature Conservation Review by Derek Ratcliffe explored the most important sites for nature restoration in the United Kingdom. Since the 70s, countless books have been written about climate change, which areas of nature need restoration attention and the impact climate change is having on biodiversity. Although there has been so much written about the impact human activity and in turn, climate change has had on biodiversity, it seems to be fairly recent that policy reflects this. Last year, at COP26 in Glasgow, nature and biodiversity resurfaced as important topics to focus on. As mentioned above, this was further expanded at COP27, and COP15 will finally address how we can reach biodiversity targets globally.
Biodiversity is a word that is thrown around a lot, but what does it actually mean? Does it refer to the cute and cozy animals that we see on WWF protection posters? The polar bears, pandas, tigers and rhinos of the world? Yes, it does, but it also means so much more. By doing a deep dive into biodiversity, how biodiversity is lost and how we can reverse that loss, perhaps we can decipher how a primary focus on restoring a healthy balance in biodiversity and protecting it could not only achieve leaps and bounds in the effort to combat climate change, but also solve a number other issues along the way. The next three editions will endeavor to answer three questions. Firstly, what is biodiversity? Secondly, what is actually causing biodiversity loss? And finally, how can biodiversity loss be reversed? By the end, hopefully, the complex, delicate and intricate nature of biodiversity will be slightly clearer.