This Compendium of Scientific and Practical Findings Supporting Eco-Restoration to Address Global Warming (the “Compendium”) is a fully referenced compilation of the evidence outlining the power, benefits and necessity of eco-restoration to address global warming. Bringing together findings from the scientific literature, government and industry reports, and journalistic investigations, this is a public, open-access document that is housed on the website of Biodiversity for a Livable Climate (https://bio4climate.org/resources/compendium).
Welcome to the First Edition of this Compendium. We are developing and continuing to refine our editorial process, and we invite comments and suggestions from you, the reader, to help make this document as useful as possible.
The Compendium is intended as a living document, and there will be regular additions between releases as the relevant literature evolves. In the past few years there has been a dramatic growth of information that supports the power of the natural world to address the causes and effects of climate change. The climate conversation has expanded dramatically beyond greenhouse gases, and is repositioning global loss of biodiversity and destruction of ecosystems as root causes of global warming and many associated environmental problems.
There is no central field of study that aggregates the information relevant to eco-restoration and climate; there are, however, many fields that contribute. The result is a solid body of evidence that argues compellingly for a focused effort on the part of governments, civic organizations, NGOs and, especially, local communities and individuals to take the lead on regenerating degraded and desertified land and waters worldwide, while also preserving carbon-rich wetlands, coastal seagrasses and other vital intact ecosystems.
The evidence is abundant, and our goal is to begin to gather it in one place to make it readily available for public scrutiny. We will present information from papers in the peer-reviewed literature, non-profit organizations, government bodies, commercial publications, and the popular press. All have valuable contributions to make from different perspectives that together paint a picture of a new, healthy and attainable world, a portrait of the people who are helping us to get there, how to get there using nature’s low-tech tools, and the arguments that propel this pressing journey forward.
It behooves us to recognize that an exclusive focus on greenhouse gas emissions is problematic. This is not a statement made lightly, as longstanding bodies of knowledge should not be dismissed capriciously. And yet, when paradigms fail to reconcile reality with assumption, they should be retired in the service of scientific progress.
This is the situation we are in today with two competing though not mutually exclusive paradigms (worldviews):
Old paradigm: Climate change is primarily a consequence of elevated greenhouse gas emissions, largely from the burning of fossil fuels.
New paradigm: Climate change is a consequence of global ecological destruction, especially of soils, soil biota, above-ground flora and fauna, and bodies of water; including disruptions of carbon, water, and energy cycles.
It’s important to note that the old paradigm has provided many important insights critical to the new paradigm, and we should learn from the investigations into the old paradigm even as the paradigm as a whole may come into question. We need to work together towards a common goal, a healthy and abundant planet, while keeping in mind that each paradigm leads to a very different set of outlooks, studies, behaviors and outcomes.
Evidence for paradigm shifts builds slowly, acceptance even more so. Indeed, one of the problems we face with this Compendium is that we’re not just considering changing land management practices, we’re of necessity examining and questioning some of the core assumptions of current mainstream science. We are facing a culture shift of difficult proportions.
We are aware that there are many studies that present significantly lower estimates of the potential for building soil carbon, managing water cycles, and eco-restoration in general. It is our position that for the most part, while those studies may present useful data, their perspective is limited by mechanistic assumptions and reductionist, non-systemic methodologies. Therefore we mostly do not include these studies in this Compendium (some, however, are illustrative and helpful).
This is admittedly a bias on our part, an intentional one aimed at offsetting the virtually ubiquitous bias of the mainstream paradigm. The reader may readily peruse the mainstream literature for extensive review, and we welcome critical examination of both the mainstream literature and of the literature presented here in an effort to promote the best possible outcomes for biodiverse life on Earth.
In sum, the clear intent of this Compendium is to fortify the case for eco-restoration as a primary and essential solution to global warming, one that potentially yields benefits more quickly and safely than any other solution currently being proposed, and to move it forward with all due haste.
Finally, we’re not attempting a definitive “proof,” an elusive pursuit in a scientific arena in any case. Rather, we’re presenting evidence of real and practical possibilities, along with solid research from many disparate fields, some of which are newly discovering (with occasional surprise) that they’re related in mutually productive ways in a kind of scientific symbiosis.
It is truly time to move science and practice beyond present assumptions. We provide examples from a variety of regenerative approaches that illustrate how we may expand the current boundaries of mainstream evidence and paradigms – and perhaps even use our innovative and growing practical and scientific understandings to reverse global warming.
Finally, we invite our readers to submit summaries of relevant findings for the next release of this Compendium. Please e-mail all contributions and correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Biodiversity for a Livable Climate
Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, bio4climate.org, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded in 2013 whose mission is to support the restoration of ecosystems to reverse global warming. We are:
- A think tank, creating research and reports (such as this Compendium), and presenting conferences on the science and practice of eco-restoration with speakers from around the world.
- An educational organization, offering presentations, courses and materials, including over 170 videos of speakers from our 9 conferences since November 2014 (bio4climate.org/conferences), with many restoration and climate-positive examples from both scientists and practitioners.
- An advocate that reaches out to other organizations to encourage and facilitate the incorporation of eco-restoration as a climate solution into their own messaging and actions. We seek to connect to other groups and projects to help nourish and advance their own growth in a healthy direction, and carry messages among groups to collaboratively learn and build on each other’s efforts, and occasionally facilitate the emergence of new groups. Since climate affects everyone, every organization has to deal with it in its own way, and we help with the transition.
- An activist group that engages in non-partisan political processes. For example, we helped shepherd a bill through the legislative process in 2017 to establish a Maryland Healthy Soils Program and are pursuing similar efforts in the Massachusetts legislature.
We are a small 501(c)(3) non-profit with a major impact in addressing climate, and we rely on your generous contributions! Please go to www.Bio4Climate.org/Donate to join our monthly donor program, or to make a one-time donation, all tax deductible. Many thanks!
Compendium of Scientific and Practical Findings Supporting Eco-Restoration to Address Global Warming, https://bio4climate.org/resources/compendium/. This is a collection of references that will grow as new literature becomes available, and as older literature is re-discovered.
Current reviewers and contributors to this collection are Hannah Lewis, Adam Sacks, Robert Blakemore, Erica Antill, Andrew Blair, Gina Angiola, Philip Bogdonoff, Annita Seckinger, Paula Phipps and Fred Jennings. The contributions from our many speakers and collaborators cannot be overstated. We invite our readers to review our collection of conference videos on the program page of each of our nine conferences to date.
We are most appreciative of the support from our sponsors over the past three years. In particular, the 11th Hour Project provided significant funding for our first two years, and the new and important institution that it helped create, the Regenerative Agriculture Foundation, is continuing its strong moral and financial support. We are also pleased to acknowledge generous conference sponsorship from the Organic Consumers Association, Regeneration International, the Virgin Earth Challenge, Bristol Community College, and the Tufts Institute of the Environment. Additional important support has been kindly provided by the Nutiva Foundation, the Savory Institute, Irving House and the Bionutrient Food Association.
We also gratefully acknowledge support from several institutions, including Tufts University, Bristol Community College and the University of the District of Columbia.
The format of this Compendium is borrowed from the excellent example of the Compendium of Scientific Medical and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (Unconventional Gas and Oil Extraction) by the Concerned Health Professionals of New York and Physicians for Social Responsibility.
Release Notes: Volume 1, Number 1, July 21, 2017
We have undertaken a far more ambitious enterprise than we had initially envisioned.
One reason is that, just as in a forest, whenever you turn over a leaf or a log you discover a universe. The universe of knowledge about healing a devastated earth is vast, from indigenous wisdom to systems science and everything in-between.
The second reason is that this body of knowledge is in a phase of exponential growth, as are the life-support issues that we attempt to address. It is virtually impossible to keep up with the almost daily discoveries and surprises, some terrifying, some extraordinarily hopeful.
We have a small staff, and therefore have had to postpone some very important material for the next release, scheduled for December 2018. We expect that these under-represented areas of discussion, which also hold great potential for addressing eco-devastation in general and climate in particular, will receive a more comprehensive review: forests and wetlands; cities and suburbs; oceans; shorelines; microbial life; dynamics of ice; and more (including the surprises we haven’t thought of yet).
 For a more thorough discussion of needed paradigm shifts, see From Paradigms to Peer Review in Appendix A.