Through education, policy and outreach, we promote the great potential of inexpensive, low-tech and powerful Nature solutions to the biodiversity and climate crises, and work to inspire urgent action and widespread implementation of many regenerative practices.
Collaborating with organizations around the globe, we advocate for the restoration of soil, and of grassland, forest, wetland, coastal and ocean ecosystems – along with the associated carbon, water and nutrient cycles. Our goals are to bring back lost biodiversity, cool the biosphere, draw down excess atmospheric greenhouse gases through living systems worldwide.
Education, public information campaigns, organizing, scientific investigation, collaboration with like-minded organizations, research and policy development are all elements of our strategy. An essential element of this effort is to re-direct the mainstream climate conversation from an almost exclusive concern with atmospheric carbon to encompass the entire carbon and water cycles and the regenerative role of biology.
Emissions reduction efforts are essential but seriously insufficient, and climate change is now proceeding not only from fossil fuel pollution but from its own self-generating processes (“positive feedback loops”).
Soils are the largest terrestrial carbon sink on the planet. Restoring the complex ecology of soils is the way to safely and quickly remove excess carbon from the atmosphere, where it’s extremely dangerous, and store it in the ground, where it’s desperately needed as part of healthy soil biology to regenerate billions of acres of degraded lands.
Since NASA scientist James Hansen’s landmark appearance before Congress in 1988 to alert the world to the dangers of global warming, the efforts of climate scientists and activists have been sharply focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and other sources such as deforestation and factory farming. While there is no question about the importance of emissions reductions, the hard reality is that over twenty-five years of intensive worldwide effort, the rate of emissions has actually accelerated. In 2021, at 415 parts per million (ppm), there were roughly 65 ppm more carbon pollution in the atmosphere than in 1988. While we must pursue the elimination of fossil-fuel and other damaging carbon emissions with due dispatch, the inadequacy of emissions reductions so far necessitates urgent adoption of other measures to address planetary warming.
Because climate science traces its early development to the fields of physics and chemistry, our understanding of climate change has not generally included the impact of biology and ecology on the geophysical world. In fact, there has been little understanding in the mainstream climate community of the biosphere as a driver of climate change. When considered at all, life on earth is regarded as a victim of extreme geophysical events over which it has little control. The powerful impact of the biosphere on the course of global warming is virtually invisible.
Earth, the Planet of Life
Without life, the Earth would be little more than another celestial rock, interesting but dead. Yet over the past 3.8 billion years on this extraordinary planet Earth, through the magic of light and the basic properties of matter, inert elements organized themselves into infinitely varied self-replicating organisms.
When coming into being, organisms have both adapted to their environments and adjusted their environments to suit their needs. The shift to an atmosphere containing oxygen is one such dramatic environmental adjustment resulting from the evolution of green plants. But life has shaped the entire global landscape and made the soils and the atmosphere, the oceans and the weather, the water and the carbon cycles, what they are today.
Now we have the knowledge we need to mobilize nature to reverse human damage to the biosphere. The carbon that we’ve spewed into the atmosphere we can return to the earth; the vital fresh water that we have wantonly thrown to the oceans, dragging billions of tons of rich topsoil along the way, we can return to thirsty lands worldwide.
Evidence from the formal scientific literature, historical record, and the experience of restoration ecologists, farmers, ranchers and wildlife and land managers across the globe strongly support regeneration of biodiversity and ecosystems as keys to reversing global warming. Broadly speaking, nature does this by capturing carbon and water in soils, thereby lowering atmospheric carbon burdens and regenerating water cycles to reduce surface temperatures. We are struggling to cross an impasse, however, because the active biosphere is barely a part of the mainstream climate discussion. It is remarkably ironic that the most effective, most beneficial, least risky and least expensive approach to reversing global warming is only recently on the table. The good news is global responses are rapidlty changing as a result of the dramatic acceleration of dire consequences we face as fires, droughts and other disruptions are taking over the missteps of civilization.
The vast biodiverse living world has remarkable capacity for regeneration, measurable in spans as short as a few years when conditions are right. We have the knowledge, ability and experience to create those conditions to benefit all living creatures, including ourselves. We have only to do so.
As of Spring 2021 we have thirteen highly successful conferences behind us on the road to restoring ecosystems to reverse global warming. To learn about remarkable stories around the world, please view the videos on each conference’s program or home page.
Education and Activism
Biodiversity for a Livable Climate brings you information about decades of scientific research and the practical experience of land managers around the world. We work to remedy the information gap in mainstream climate advocacy which tells us that virtually the only practical effective action we can take is to reduce fossil fuel emissions. There is another way.
Primarily based in the physical sciences, climate scientists generally do not yet recognize what life scientists and ecologists have long known: the power of life has molded almost every aspect of the physical earth, including the climate. Wise human management of the biosphere can undo the eco-mess we have created, and regenerate a planet that we can live on.
While reducing emissions is of critical importance, there is far more that we can and must do, especially considering that emissions reductions efforts have to date been insufficient – and even if emissions were to go to zero today, we would still be faced with catastrophic effects of climate change.
According to the 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report:
“A large fraction of anthropogenic climate change resulting from CO2 emissions is irreversible on a multi-century to millennial time scale, except in the case of a large net removal of CO2 from the atmosphere over a sustained period . . . (p. 28, emphasis added)”
Global warming is a symptom of a much deeper problem, and to address the problem effectively we need to get to root causes: the human-caused degradation and desertification of lands worldwide.
Regenerating healthy global ecosystems – and moving gigatons of carbon from the atmosphere back into the soils on billions acres of degraded land – is the answer. There is reason to believe that it’s possible to return to safe pre-industrial levels of atmospheric carbon in a matter of decades.
We bring speakers from around the world to our conferences, and they have inspired thousands of people with hope and practical, inexpensive, low-tech solutions – and stunning results.
There are many tools in the eco-restoration toolkit, and there’s something for just about every habitat on the planet. Approaches include permaculture, holistic planned grazing, wetland restoration, reintroduction of native keystone species (e.g., otters, kelp, prairie dogs, mangrove forests, beaver), innovative water cycle management, reforestation, biochar, rock powders, coastline and fisheries restoration, regenerative agriculture – the list of promising options continues to grow. And we know how to put these into practice – now!
We have lost far more carbon to the atmosphere from soil disruption since the beginning of agriculture than the excess carbon that is currently in the atmosphere. We must turn this around: Through ecological restoration and regenerative agriculture, we can take gigatons of carbon out of the atmosphere and put it back into the ground.
We know now that the safest and most effective approach to reducing atmospheric carbon is to capture it with millions of species of green plants, animals, insects, fungi and micro-organisms, which bury it deep in soils in carbon-rich molecules that are stable for centuries or longer. In the process, because complex organic carbon molecules retain many times their weight in water, we restore vibrant life to billions of acres of parched, desertified areas that were once healthy forests or grasslands.
There’s more good news: with biodiversity and eco-restoration we can unite people, organizations and governments, even those who have been fighting and maneuvering for advantage for decades. Most everyone will agree that a magnificent stretch of wooded hills or green fields of grasses full of life are preferable to those rendered parched, cracked, barren and lifeless due to human misuse.
The mission of Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, therefore, is to promote seeing the world in wholes to re-establish biodiversity and water cycles, store carbon in the soils, maximize photosynthetic solar energy capture, eliminate bare soils and reverse global warming by applying regenerative approaches to the land worldwide.