CEO Corner

Follow our CEO, Manuel Oliva, for insights and inspiration on the direction of conservation science today.

New Climate Report Offers Urgency and Hope

By Mani Oliva, C.E.O.

Yesterday the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC), the leading global body for climate change science, issued their landmark report assessing the state of climate change. This report is the strongest reminder yet that urgent action is needed. Over the next twenty years, it predicts that the global temperature increase since pre-industrial times will reach 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). Warming global temperatures will bring greater weather and climate extremes, such as more intense heat waves and droughts along with increased rise in sea levels and more frequent flooding. The report makes clear the underlying causes of this change–human activities. And it points to a still open pathway to meet the challenge: lowering our carbon emissions with more urgency and ambition. The report also emphasizes that we are in the midst of a climate change scenario over the next couple decades that we cannot avoid, which will require thoughtful adaptation programs to protect human and wildlife communities.

The IPCC report comes at a time when there is already a strong recognition of the degradation to our natural systems across the globe and continuing loss of biodiversity.  In fact, the United Nations has declared this to be the Decade for Ecosystem Restoration and announced an initiative to protect 30 percent of our global land and marine biodiversity by 2030 (the state of California has also committed to reaching this goal, known as “30×30”).  These planned efforts to protect ecosystems and wildlife habitats in both land and marine systems are being challenged by the growing effects of climate change.

Nature-based solutions offer tremendous opportunities to meet the challenge of these interlocking crises–protecting critical natural systems while harnessing the power of nature to adapt to the growing effects of climate change and capture carbon emissions. A few examples of the nature-based solutions we are developing at Point Blue include:

  • Improved soil health research that is already demonstrating the potential of innovative agricultural practices that will protect our food systems under hotter and drier conditions while storing carbon emissions underneath our feet.
  • The application of decades of ecological data from the forests of the Sierra Nevada to inform management practices and regrowth strategies after wildfires in a way that reduces the potential for future destructive wildfires while supporting greater biodiversity (read about a recent Point Blue paper on the topic here).
  • Restoring heavily degraded riparian forests along California’s rivers that store more carbon than upland forests while providing important habitat for birds and other wildlife.
  • Advising government agencies on the installation of offshore wind energy turbines so that they can help provide important clean energy while protecting critical marine species and fisheries.

To be clear, deep reductions in carbon emissions across all sectors of our economy is important for us to begin the process of healing our planet. At the same time nature-based solutions  must be prioritized in any climate change strategy because of their potential to offer multiple benefits to address climate change. These solutions allow us to both adapt to the effects of climate change while also capturing carbon emissions to reduce the severity of the impact, as well as protect the critical ecosystems and biodiversity that support our long-term health and well-being.