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Sharon mc gregor gcc 2019


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Presentation at the 2019 Massachusetts Green Careers Conference

Published in: Environment
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Sharon mc gregor gcc 2019

  1. 1. Sustainability is a Myth without Transformative Change: Be this change in Career and Jobs Biodiversity for a Livable Climate
  2. 2. The Existential Threat
  3. 3. EARTH’s SITUATION IN 2019 IS CRITICAL • Atmospheric CO2 415 ppm as of May 11, 2019 • Rising temperatures (the six warmest years on record have all occurred since 2010) • Rising sea levels (already about a foot; several more feet possible by end of century) • Weather extremes, severe storms on the rise • Major extinction in progress (one million species at risk) • Soil erosion > 75 billion tons annually • Land desiccation and fires (water tables dropping) • 400 Dead Zones (anoxic regions) in the ocean • Coral reefs bleaching and dying around the world • Arctic Ocean free of summer ice for the first time in recorded history!
  4. 4. Now we are in a runaway warming.
  5. 5. This warming is a symptom of an underlying “disease”: Planet-wide losses of biodiversity and ecosystem integrity/health.
  6. 6. The treatment, the cure? Get really serious about emissions reductions. Ramp up protection and restoration of nature.
  7. 7. The Biodiversity Solution
  8. 8. Two landmark reports underscoring biology’s protagonist role in climate and other global goals Released in May, 2019 Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) ➢ Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history. ➢ The health of ecosystems on which all species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. ➢ Through transformative change, at every level from local to global, nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably. Global Deal for Nature (GDN) ➢ Science-driven plan to save the diversity and abundance of life on Earth.
  9. 9. The power of biology explained To have a chance at maintaining a livable climate, we must protect the nature that remains: 1. Halt destruction of the forests that represent the largest land-based carbon stores on the planet. 2. Protect at least Half Earth, including half or more of our communities, regions, states, countries. 3. Practice minimum disturbance development.
  10. 10. The power of biology explained We also have to restore degraded or lost nature everywhere we can: 1. Restore ecosystems that are primary carbon sinks (5 types) 2. Restore small water cycles
  11. 11. The power of biology explained For any ecosystem, including grasslands… Restoration = healthy carbon, water, nutrient, and energy cycles
  12. 12. Pick your habitat to re-establish and make healthy again, and there will be – • soil biology • water cycle • Keystone species/predator-prey relationships • photosynthetic processes that need to be restored.
  13. 13. The key ingredient in the “recipe” for restoring high carbon sink habitats, with their attendant photosynthesis, is water. Water, or more precisely, the water cycle, figures prominently in reversal of climate change.
  14. 14. Causes of the loss of small water cycles • destruction of native landscapes -- on house lots and other development sites, including trees and native plants with invaluable evapotranspiration function; • excavation of native soils -- for sale to nurseries, etc. and replacement with biologically impoverished, invasive-seed infested, non-native soils that can’t absorb water (the water just runs off to streams and rivers rather than recharge soils and groundwater); • sewering of densely developed lands -- which returns water to the environment great distances from the source; • chemical fertilizer and pesticide application -- that destroys soil biology, notably the Mycorrhizal fungi network that has a 10-fold or higher water absorption rate over soils without healthy microfungi; • historic loss of beavers as keystone species -- now returning in abundance to MA, helping us to weather drought; • loss of wetlands in terms of acreage and/or function.
  16. 16. If we rehydrate the continents, we can restore the climate! Carbon follows the water…
  17. 17. In present time, a well hydrated and vegetated earth can cool the climate and regrow ice in the Arctic, setting us back on course for a livable climate.
  18. 18. We humans evolved in an ice age; now we are in a desiccation age. Without biodiversity – in the soils and throughout the Biosphere -- the land can’t hold water. Without water retention on the landscape, we can’t sustain healthy photosynthesizing vegetation and the attendant carbon drawdown, evapotranspiration, and nutrient cycling that sustain us.
  19. 19. Carbon follows the Water that follows the Biodiversity.
  20. 20. Without biodiversity we can’t restore our climate.
  21. 21. Photo collage slide of larger restorations
  22. 22. Which shall we choose? Scenario 500: “Business as usual” will take us to CO2 levels exceeding 500 ppm by the return of Haley’s Comet in 2061. Scenario 300: “Nature’s potential realized” through protection of intact ecosystems, restoration of lost/damaged ecosystems, and recovery of small water cycles.
  23. 23. Transformative Change (You participate in the context of the career/jobs you choose) • Commit to greater vigilance in reducing CO2 emissions, developing renewable energies, and improving energy efficiency. • Commit to protecting and restoring nature everywhere possible. – Restore the five high carbon sink habitats/ecosystems – Restore small water cycles – Minimum disturbance development – Net carbon sink status • Act to realize a rapid shift in ethics, to a “nature first” morality. – Frontload biodiversity and ecosystem considerations in all decision making
  24. 24. Contact Sharon McGregor Visit us on Facebook,