Earth Day: why we must focus on nature to mitigate climate change

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Earth Day: why we must focus on nature to mitigate climate change

It’s Earth Day today – a day when we bring our attention to just how awesome our earth is! And it’s a movement that, over the past 50 years, has galvanised interest in and action around climate change. And we at Clean Water Wave really welcome that galvanising spirit, cos man oh man… there’s a LOT that we need to do to help our Earth and let nature thrive.

I got a bit of flack in my post on World Water Day for suggesting that Scotland’s water resources aren’t as good as most people assume they are. I wholeheartedly stand by my words last month.

Climate change necessitates a focus on valuing nature

We cannot and must not rest on our laurels because we feel like we are not bearing the brunt of climate change right here right now. There is so much room for improvement, and moreover, so much that we need to act upon in order to save our planet from our excesses.

The conversation about climate change has, to date, been incredibly focused on carbon.

Which is absolutely right and proper – but it needs to go further as such a focus neglects a critical part of the equation: nature.

The oceans are our single greatest ally for climate change mitigation

My colleagues, Dr Howard Dryden and Diane Duncan, have published a paper that details how quickly we need to act in order to mitigate climate change. Critically, the research our team have been doing in collaboration with researchers over the world demonstrates how vitally important it is that we limit the amount of toxic chemicals and plastics that end up in our seas – otherwise, our Earth will simply not be able to cope and we will witness the collapse of ecosystems the world over.

The paper, and the founding principles of our Global Oceanic Environmental Survey (GOES), shows that even if we went carbon neutral tomorrow, our Earth wouldn’t be able to absorb enough carbon to prevent ocean acidification and catastrophic loss of marine life.

The oceans are our single greatest ally for climate change mitigation – which is why we on land have to do as much as we can to stop toxic chemicals and plastics entering the seas.

Value nature from source to sea

We fully believe in protecting nature and managing our water resources from source to sea: so we have to limit as much as possible from ending up in our oceans and do so from every angle!

That means:

  • looking at what we can do individually to limit chemicals & plastics that we flush down our loos and plug holes (aka pharmaceuticals, chemical SPFs, antibacterial products etc)
  • improving our wastewater treatment and having tertiary systems to remove even more from going out to the rivers and seas,
  • improving wastewater practices from industry including distilleries and food processing, and agriculture too.

Nature-based solutions & a non-toxic future

At Clean Water Wave, we are research led and passionate about our planet. It’s why we have a ‘source to sea’ philosophy, and why we not only do research and outreach work on climate change but develop nature-based solutions to help us tackle our impact on earth.

We’ve been working hard on testing and trialling our CAFE filter on its effectiveness to improve our water sources from a range of pollutants, including pharmaceuticals and microplastics and believe CAFE can be a highly effective, low impact tool in our armoury to remove and reduce pollution for people and planet.

Fighting climate change and protecting our Earth has to be something that we all do together, from every angle, all of the time. There has to be mass improvement, across the board, by us all. That means no protectionism, no nationalistic sentiment that ‘we’re better than you because XYZ’, and no stuck in the mud behaviour.

Instead, we need mass behavioural change, huge education efforts about pollution, and to seriously up the ante with investment and financing of green chemistry, nature-based solutions, and every effort to value and protect nature.

We all recognise how important nature is to our individual wellbeing. So we must ensure that our actions truly demonstrate it too.

If you want to read more, please visit our Global Ocean Environmental Survey website, and get in touch if you’d like to know more about our results from the CAFE system for water treatment.