Climate Emergency – where do we go from here?

Nevis MD Kathryn Fraser shares her view on our climate emergency:

Climate Emergency – where do we go from here?

The buzz of the moment, but there is nothing new about it. There has been a Climate Emergency for the last 20 years, now it’s just got to a point where it is threatening economic stability and quality of life. Caring about our environment is no longer mired in the stigma of tree huggers; it’s a golden ticket to economic success.

This Climate Emergency is not just about the emissions of harmful greenhouse gases, nor the persistence of plastics, it is the very ability of our planet to buffer the changes brought about by our activity: to shift itself to cope. The heart of that buffer is the ecology and ecosystems – the bacteria, fungi, insects, birds and animals; the phytoplankton, zooplankton and fish; the soils and their biome, water quality and its ability to support life, the air and its ability to allow respiration - that means the biology and chemistry right down to the microscale.  If the ecosystems are not healthy then the buffer is strained, struggles, becomes less rich and ultimately fails: it is unable to absorb and adapt to change. If we deplete ecosystems, make it hard for life to be sustained, remove vegetation, acidify soils, don’t ensure the animals are present and can thrive, we are adding to that climate emergency. This natural capital is ours to maintain and, if done poorly, it becomes an economic and social liability.

You can’t separate climate health from that of human health or economic health: they are all one and the same. I am not suggesting or indeed believe that we should stop building or creating, but instead feel that we should do everything possible to ensure that what we do, we do well and with consideration for the environment around us. We should look at development activities, employ experts, put the care of natural capital up on the agenda because without that care, there will be a cost – financial, social and environmental. We need to protect, enhance and improve, as much as we can, to ensure there is a profitable future for all.

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