How Nature is Combating Climate Change

Written by Kajsa IngelssonJanuary 9, 2020

It’s important to realize that our individual actions matter a lot when it comes to (everything) fighting climate change. Such things as carbon offsetting, reducing your plastic consumption, and eating less (or maybe none please) meat and dairy are all great ways to live the green activist life!

But do you know how nature herself is combating climate change? It’s really quite fascinating.

First we have our oceans. They store around 93% of our carbon in their aelga, vegetation and coral reefs. And I recently read how whales are helping our oceans out in a big way; it’s called a trophic cascade. It explains the ecological process which starts at the top of the food chain and tumbles all the way down to the bottom.

In the case of the whales, it’s a two fold. First we have the fact that their movements — especially when diving — tend to push nutrients from the bottom of the ocean to the surface, where they feed the phytoplankton and other marine flora that suck in carbon, as well as fish and other smaller animals.

Secondly, we have their poop that introduces nutrients that create marine plants in the area. These plants use photosynthesis, which absorbs carbon, thus enhancing the carbon capture process. It is thought that when whale populations were at their historical high, before being demolished by human persecution, they were responsible for removing tens of millions of tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year.

Next, let’s look at our forests. Forests are a stabilising force for the climate. They regulate ecosystems, protect biodiversity, play an integral part in the carbon cycle, support livelihoods, and supply goods and services that can drive sustainable growth.

Forests’ role in climate change is two-fold. This means that they act as both a cause and a solution for greenhouse gas emissions. The cause of forests driving climate change; around 25% of global emissions come from the land sector, and about half of these (5-10 GtCO2e annually) comes from deforestation and forest degradation.

The cure: Forests are one of the most important solutions to addressing the effects of climate change. Approximately one-third of the CO2 released from burning fossil fuels is absorbed by forests every year. The good news? Estimates show that nearly two billion hectares of degraded land across the world – an area the size of South America – offer opportunities for restoration.

Increasing and maintaining forests is therefore an essential solution to climate change.

Last, but most certainly not least, we have our mangroves! Mangroves are a tangled groups of some 70 species of salt-tolerant trees — they grow in the briny, waterlogged soils of tropical and subtropical shorelines. These ecosystems serve as nurseries for many aquatic animals and are home to an astounding number of other species, including native birds. They provide essential storm protection and nourishment for coastal-dwelling human communities.

Mangroves are also powerful carbon sinks: They store more carbon per acre than any other forest variety as a result of carbon being locked away in the soil underneath their roots. Blue carbon — that is, carbon captured and stored in coastal ecosystems — can be kept safe in mangrove forests for thousands of years if they are left undisturbed.

Experts believe that mangroves store as much as four times more carbon than tropical forests do.

So, needless to say, our nature holds many of the solutions to our current climate crisis. What we need to do, is allow her to work her magic. How do we do this? By supporting rewilding projects, planting trees, signing petitions urging politicians to create more national parks and protected areas where we can let nature just be.