Beyond World Summits: Into Biodiversity Restoration

Updated: Jan 5

The United Nations’ 26th Climate Conference of the Parties (COP 26) generated a ton of media attention this month, and hopefully will result in binding commitments by large nations to reduce their emissions. However, given that it is the 26th time these same actors have come together to talk, or blah blah blah, about climate change, it seems foolish to hope that serious change will result.

We started workshopping the idea for Humans for Abundance about two years after the 2015 Paris accords, or COP 21, had ended with a consensus by large nations to keep warming under 1.5 degrees celsius. Yet, emissions steadily rose year after year, fossil fuel subsidies were doled out to extremely profitable multinational corporations, and new oil, gas, and coal infrastructure continued to be greenlit and built by governments the world over.

At the same time, more and more reports about the decreasing levels of biodiversity all over the world had been released. Biodiversity loss is certainly affected by a changing climate, but its primary cause is loss of habitat. And while the two issues are very much related, along with the trashing and overfishing of the worlds’ oceans, much less media attention and funding is given to biodiversity loss even though scientists warn that it is just as threatening to human existence as the climate crisis. After all, if there are fewer insects to pollinate our crops, less plants to filter air and water, or no fish in the oceans, there can be no civilized society on this planet.

Instead of wallowing in despair or admitting it was all over, we decided to take action. It was obvious to us that 30 years of environmental actions on climate change and 50 years of conservation efforts by large nonprofits and governments had largely failed to halt emissions or habitat destruction. Also, individual efforts to reduce personal carbon footprints by reducing driving and flying or eating less meat are certainly honorable, but largely ineffectual. Even if there is a majority of people committed to those actions, it still remains that only 100 companies are responsible for 70% of all greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. Even more insidious is the fact that the concept of carbon footprints was created by marketers at BP to push the responsibility of climate change onto consumers.

Something different had to be tried, and it had to involve many people the world over. We have reached the point that climate change can only be solved by large scale interventions by huge companies or powerful governments. Individual action has not worked, and the focus on celebrities’ nonprofits and politicians’ speeches at COP only serve to reinforce the notion that powerful people out there are solving this problem for us. They are not.

Collective action is the only way to shift humanity’s systems towards abundance for all living beings. This is why the vision of Humans For Abundance is to lead a significant movement of humans towards the restoration and conservation of the planet’s ecosystems and their biodiversity. This movement must be something new, and our efforts to directly partner people in developed countries with restorers in the global south was not possible until the creation of technologies like the internet and banking apps. While it is true that carbon footprints were a marketing gimmick to deflect blame, it is also true that the “global north is responsible for 92% of excess carbon dioxide emissions since the dawn of the industrial age” (Aronoff).

Taking responsibility for those historical emissions means ensuring that people in the global south do not bear the brunt of the climate crisis. It also means they should have an opportunity to live full and successful lives. We can incentivize people to make a living by restoring a degraded rainforest, or protecting a mega-diverse mountain range, or turning farms into functioning ecosystems. These eco-actions are cumulative, as is the process of natural restoration. A tree that grows from an abandoned strip mine attracts a bird that deposits a seed of a shrub that works with bacteria to fix nitrogen into the soil which in turn attracts more plants and birds and, before you know it, a full ecosystem is thriving in a former wasteland.

The ones who have tried to solve climate change 26 times will continue to talk about solving it as storms and heatwaves and floods get worse and habitats disappear, but it has become apparent that real action is not in their agenda. At Humans for Abundance, we are not so arrogant to think that our vision is the only way to “save the planet,” but rather we see ourselves as one functioning part in a vast web of organizations, companies, ecosystems, and societies that are turning their backs on despair and looking toward a future earth with clear eyes and resolve to do better than our predecessors. Be a part of that new ecosystem of abundance and step forward into a brighter future with us.

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