Returning strategic parts of the world’s farmlands to nature could help mitigate both climate change and biodiversity loss, a new study found.
The twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss are intertwined: Storms and wildfires are worsening while as many as one million species are at risk of extinction.
The solutions are not small or easy, but they exist, scientists say.
A global road map, published Wednesday in Nature, identifies a path to soaking up almost half of the carbon dioxide that has built up since the Industrial Revolution and averting more than 70 percent of the predicted animal and plant extinctions on land. The key? Returning a strategic 30 percent of the world’s farmlands to nature.
It could be done, the researchers found, while preserving an abundant food supply for people and while also staying within the time scale to keep global temperatures from rising past 2 degrees Celsius, the upper target of the Paris Agreement.
“It’s one of the most cost effective ways of combating climate change,” said Bernardo B.N. Strassburg, one of the study’s authors and an environmental scientist with Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and the International Institute for Sustainability. “And it’s one of the most important ways of avoiding global extinctions.”
The researchers used a map from the European Space Agency that breaks down the surface of the planet into a grid of parcels classified by ecosystem: forests, wetlands, shrub lands, grasslands and arid regions. Using an algorithm they developed, the scientists evaluated which swaths, if returned to their natural states, would yield the highest returns for mitigating climate change and biodiversity loss at the lowest cost.
Read the rest here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/14/climate/biodiversity-farmland-extinction.html