Being positive to nature will help combat biodiversity loss and help the earth


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I arrived at Alpha Lake Park early in the morning on Monday to work on a burdock patch that I’ve been cutting off for a few years. When I was about to dig something on the edge of the parking lot, I noticed a pile of empty cans, drinks bottles and packaging that had obviously been thrown out of a car the night before and who knows what ends. While I was staring, others passed them by not realizing it or, if they did, looking away.

As always, my immediate thoughts wavered between who’s doing this and why, what’s wrong with people in general, and why, despite all the messages to the contrary, is it still happening in Whistler? Our parks – and other parts of the valley – fill up with garbage every day during the summer, and there are hundreds of such piles to contend with. Although most of the skinless visitors are left in the local game, some of it is the work of locals who have no qualms about throwing a can of beer into the bush. In any case, this inexplicable selfishness and claim is a nature-negative thinking: it’s not a big deal, it’s a parking lot, I haven’t found a garbage can, someone else will clean it up.

Our collective thinking should of course be exactly the opposite: we should all – no, need– find a trash can no matter what. Regardless of whether we are in a hurry or don’t see anyone in our field of vision, garbage disposal should always be a job – even if we have to take it home: I am responsible for that; I can neither destroy the environment nor harm the animal world. It is a directive that should be kneaded into our psyche from an early age and burned into our consciousness. Keeping our house free of trash would then mean keeping other people’s homes free of trash, which would increase from local, regional, national and global awareness of the environment in general. If we were more positive in our attitudes toward something as fundamentally natural, every other human endeavor would flow in a similar direction.

Such a psychological change could be a real game changer when it comes to dealing with the major crises of our time, climate change and the loss of biodiversity. It could be even bigger in order to avoid Brobdingnag’s environmental problems at all. This was the consideration on May 28th of this year when Allish Campbell, Canada’s Ambassador to the EU, together with the WWF European Policy Office organized an online presentation of a consensus position paper written by 12 ENGOs: A nature positive world: the global goal for nature.

At the event, scientific and international experts explored the core idea of ​​the study – a nature-positive world. The paper called for a series of actions based on Earth systems science. In the sense of a human-typical goal setting and institutions that were just as overwhelmed by the biodiversity crisis as we were all overwhelmed by the climate crisis, a simple, concrete global goal was formulated, which aims to trace the curve of species loss and extinction so that the trend will reverse to zero net loss levels by 2030. The discussion was led by the main authors of the paper: Harvey Locke from Canada, Chairman of the IUCN WCPA Beyond the Aichi Targets Task Force at Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative in Banff and Johan Rokström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Professor of Earth System Science at the University of Potsdam. They were accompanied by Marco Lambertini, General Director of WWF International. The most important souvenirs:

• We need integrated global strategies and synergies between global climate, sustainability and biodiversity policy processes. A consensus on the linked relationship between climate and biodiversity (the loss of biodiversity accelerates climate change and vice versa) suggests that joint solutions can bring multiple benefits, so that synergies must be found between climate, biodiversity and development agendas. In other words, high-level political commitments should take into account biodiversity and climate issues. To do this in a way that is understandable for everyone, it takes a clear, global goal for nature – a simple success metric to mobilize commitment, just as the 1.5 ° C target has mobilized commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement.

• As mentioned above, this global goal for nature is to become nature positive by 2030, a goal that means achieving a net loss of nature from now on. This requires a global change towards sustainable production and consumption patterns. Achieving a 30 percent level of land protection by 2030 (on the table for an upcoming global biodiversity convention) is essential to the success of this goal; The ultimate common goal should be to achieve a fair, nature-friendly and climate-neutral world by 2050.

• We need a conceptual change towards a nature-positive hierarchy. This requires a transformation of our perception of how things relate to one another. Instead of the usual intersectional conceptualization of the environment, economy and society as three circles in which sustainable development can only be achieved in an overlapping sweet spot, we need a hierarchical visualization of the environment-society-economy nexus, in which economy is the result society is the medium in which it occurs, and both are embedded in a nature that creates all advantages.

• From a planetary boundary and earth system science perspective, there is great support for the adoption of a global natural goal. We are currently at high risk of destabilizing the Earth system equilibrium, which is facing unprecedented pressures (hello heatwave!). If you want to know more about it, stop by Overcoming Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet on Netflix. The film, moderated jointly by Rockström and David Attenborough, relativizes the current collapse of the earth’s biodiversity (not too severe at this point) and shows how the crisis can be averted through nature-positive measures.

Ultimately, we can all help direct our thoughts and beliefs in a more nature-positive direction. I might have started by not wondering who dumped the trash at Alpha Lake, but just picked it up myself – like cleaning up my house.

Leslie Anthony is a science / environmental writer and a PhD writer on Connecting the Dots.

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