#RestoreTheEarth (Chris Searles)
Recently i came across an article on an airplane, Secrets of the Earth: On a trip home to Jamaica, i searched for the vanishing landscape of my memory. The author is a novelist, born in Jamaica, who returns home to gather details for her work. “I travel back to refresh my view, to authenticate remembered details. My novels are set on the island…” You can see she's inspired, here's one photo from Jamaica:
But on her most recent trip the author was shocked to discover that Jamaica’s magical landscapes (read: ecosystems) are disappearing.
Once called “the earthly paradise” by Colombus, Jamaica is now victim of what scientists, environmentalists, and policy professionals call land use change.
“Land Use Change”
We’re all familiar with the debate that every generation believes its living in “end times.” It’s a theme that describes the powerlessness humans often feel in the face of tyranny or war, disease or blight. How hopeless it must have felt at times for Noah’s people during their 100 years in the wilderness. . .
But today’s “end times” debate can be substantiated. There are numerous studies showing that ecosystems and biodiverse species on our planet are in rapid decline. This article on "ecological recession" describes what is perhaps the most important peer-reviewed study of 2016. What's happening? Our recent, phenomenal expansion is consuming the homes, resources, and other livings required for other living things at phenomenal scale. Here's a synopsis we published last year on the status some of today's unprecedented biodiversity loss. Why does this matter? Well, beyond spiritual, ethical and heart-centered considerations, biodiversity = life support services. We rely nearly 100% on the interactions of all other living things to create our oxygen, food, freshwater, and more.
“Approaching a State Shift in Earth's Biosphere” (2012) finds that humans have cleared and converted about 43% of Earth’s ecosystems into farms, ranches, and cities. Most of the remaining Earth is now bisected by roads and selectively commoditized. The UN's World Heritage Sites are being desecrated by humans. 70% of global forest wildernesses are suddenly within less than 0.6 miles from a road. And etc., etc., etc.
All of this ecosystem clearing and repurposing (on land and in water) is driving the fastest reduction of species on Earth, perhaps ever. Today, species are disappearing faster than when the dinosaurs went extinct about 65 million years ago.
With more than 100 species going extinct everyday, just due to human development and consumption, and likely more than 60% of global wildlife has been destroyed in the last 50 years, we are not “cutting off the limb of the tree we sit on,” we are just destroying the tree.
Species EVERYWHERE are in rapid decline today, from the micro to the macro. Both of our closest genetic ancestors were recently declared endangered species after millions of years of uninterrupted existence that preceded us. All five of their ancestors — the great apes species have recently been declared Critically Endangered, meaning (primarily): i) They’ve lost at least 75% of their population in their last three generations, and ii) their continuation is immediately in question. There are hundreds such examples.
Biodiversity = Life Support Services
What’s the significance of all this? It’s simple. We rely 100% on other living things for the majority of things that make life possible for us. In the modern sense, other living things create 100% of our food, 100% of our oxygen, most of our freshwater, etc., and have an enormous influence over our climate and the rate of global warming.
I call this, “The Forgotten Memory.” The world’s indigenous peoples, those still living “off the land” (in harmony with natural systems) don’t just know that they DEPEND 100% on all other living things and that we are one recent result of this system’s continuous speciation. They also know that we are, literally, the least important part of the system —
“You can take humans out of the system and it’ll be fine. Not the other way around.”
So yes, we are at the edge today. So many red lines have been crossed, and we live in an era of denial and ignorance from our leaders about the necessity of large, diverse, wild ecosystems to maintaining both “the goldilocks climate” of the last 10,000 years and the “pre profit” life support services we’ve counted on for hundreds of thousands of years.
But the solution is: Simple. Inexpensive. Beautiful. Inclusive. Empowering. Systemic (Multi-faceted). Fast. #Restoration. My project biointegrity is promoting a three pronged call for global biospheric restoration. It is time to turn the ship around on species loss. Period.
“Wilderness” and “connected wildernesses” are the primary values to protect and restore. We can utilize advanced technologies and wealth to map, finance, research, monitor and rebuild the world’s ecosystems, but we must understand wilderness = “left alone.” In order for humans to thrive, all species must thrive.
The state of the world today is simply that human beings have progressed to such a scale (of total influence over Earth’s finite living and nonliving resources) that we now control the fate of our biosphere. Restoring our biosphere requires we work as fast as possible to:
- Protect all of our most biodiverse, most bio-productive ecosystems
- Restore uninterrupted connectivity among these ecosystems
- Solve the world’s food production crisis with restorative eco-intensification
- Buffer against global warming and species loss by restoring and installing biodiversity resilience buffers (primarily via reforestation) everywhere people live
“What i Want is Some Assurance”
“What I want is some assurance that the landscape of (my) memory and history won’t disappear” the article highlights. Unfortunately, the only assurance we have is quite the opposite. Humanity is destroying ecosystems and all other livings, aka. The Creation, at a rate that threatens the future of virtually all living things within decades. And seeing as species loss causes the same impacts as climate change, our best assurance both on protecting the planet from the impacts of runaway global warming and catastrophic species loss is to #RestoreRapidly.
Reduce, Restore, Rejoice
Yes, you can afford to save the world and you can do your part both locally and globally in an enjoyable way. Local solutions are as simple as keeping your yard and the environs around your community spaces as wild as possible. This is about reducing the number of times you mow, trim, cut, poison, etc. Ecosystems are organisms made by the dynamic relationships of the living things inside. Let them live.
What Success Looks Like
John Liu has captured the best news the world has yet seen in this domain — the assurance of restoration. In the 2012 doco below, John shows how China renewed a landscape the size of Maryland in under two decades with four fundamental components:
- Soil soakage
- Soil life
- Diverse plantings
- Leaving it alone
Geoff Lawton is perhaps the world’s greatest environmental restorationist. His primary foci are the same, don’t miss this 9 minutes on how Lawton's small team brought a cool, moist, vibrant, self-regenerating ecosystem back to life in the driest, saliest, desert in the world.
Support The Solutions
Let's do this! #RestoreTheEarth!