A message to Durban
Stepping up for Nature, IUCN’s Goodwill Ambassadors send their message to decision makers at the UN climate summit.
Oceans and climate change: a matter of survival
“For billions of years, life on this planet has evolved, transforming the atmosphere and changing its climate. The air we breathe today is a mixture of gases fine-tuned to our own needs. The ozone layer which protects us from the lethal radiation of the sun was created by microscopic bacteria. All of these conditions have been created by organisms who lived millions and millions of years ago, at an unimaginably slow pace.
Today, as we burn the fossil fuels that nature has taken eons to trap into the Earth, making our atmosphere breathable and livable for us, we threaten our very survival. As the carbon is released into the air, it dissolves into the oceans, acidifying them and threatening the survival of millions of creatures upon which the livelihoods of so many people depend. Temperatures rise, the climate is altered... for a species that takes pride in dominating the planet, we are paving the way to our own destruction, when we could be working to master the destiny of our home environment.
Water and air, the two essentials of life, are not being treated with the respect and care they deserve. The liquid in our blood and cells is of the same composition as sea water. More than half of the oxygen we breathe is still produced by minuscule organisms bathing in the ocean upper layers. Our connection to the ocean is visceral. Our fate is mirrored in the shining surface of the sea.”
Read more about Pierre-Yves’ work with IUCN.
Sustainability is not a sacrifice, it’s an opportunity
"After having worked for 25 years all over the world as a National Geographic photographer, filmmaker and conservationist, I have been truly privileged working in many of the richest ecosystems on our planet. I have seen extraordinary beauty and diversity, and I have seen the flip side of the coin; I have witnessed gradual change, and in many cases, a ruthless exploitation of our natural resources—from putting species on the brink of extinction, to collapsed ecosystems and social injustice.
Science clearly tells us that we cannot allow human-induced global warming to exceed 2oC. Beyond 2 degrees, which is way outside the range of warming over the past 10,000 years, we can no longer exclude catastrophic implications for humans and ecosystems. To succeed, the world needs to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases extremely quickly to reach zero emissions by 2050. This is nothing less than a grand transformation.
What I would hope that COP 17 in Durban can lead to is a further acceptance and understanding that the reasonable way to achieve these goals is by securing our threatened ecosystems in our oceans, rainforests and temperate rainforests, since all available science makes it clear beyond any doubt that these systems are the only true regulators of a stable continuation of a life support system for our species on earth. We need to find ways to prove that sustainability is not a sacrifice but an essential pathway to survival for ourselves, and on top of that, to a great extent, even a new business opportunity for the growing green economies."
Read more about the work of Mattias Klum.
There’s magic in nature
“My hope is that, in addition to focusing on technologies that aim to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and creating national strategies to move towards cleaner energy and away from fossil fuels, more measures will also be taken to preserve our natural resources, while we still have them.
Forests and forest soils currently store more than one trillion tons of carbon, yet it’s estimated that deforestation and the degradation of forests account for 17.4% of greenhouse gas emissions. There are more than a billion hectares of lost or degraded forest land that could be restored, which could also potentially provide jobs for the millions of people already living in forests in both developed and developing countries.
Wetlands act as natural filtration systems, providing essential barriers between land and sea, and also store between 300 and 700 billion tonnes of carbon worldwide. Peatlands alone store more than 500 billion tonnes.
However, the world’s most effective carbon sink (natural or artificial reservoirs which absorb and store carbon dioxide indefinitely) is the ocean, for sea meadows, salt marshes and mangrove forests have been proven to have an even greater capacity to store carbon than terrestrial carbon sinks. Not to mention, management of coastal forests, such as mangroves, provide increased barriers for flood risks and tsunamis.
The many wonders of nature provide peace, solace, beauty and shelter for millions of people around the world. On a personal level, I go crazy when I’m stuck inside for too long, and the only cure is a healthy dose of trees, flowers and fresh air, preferably near a body of water. I don’t know what I would do if that wasn’t an option… There is magic in nature, a magic that nothing man-made could ever replace.
It’s easy to assume that the world’s forests, seas, wetlands, rivers, lakes and other natural wonders are too vast, ancient and independent to be affected by little people like us. Yet nature isn’t indestructible. Due to human impact, our global ecosystem grows more and more strained every day. It depends on us now, just as we depend upon it.
This week, I do sincerely hope that commitments will be made to invest in our planet’s natural resources, before it is too late.”
We’re all in this together
"To participants at the Durban summit. Since 2004 when I started acting as the first IUCN goodwill ambassador, I have been calling for the necessity of cooperation among all people on the earth through my music and picture books.
This year, IUCN has appointed new goodwill ambassadors active in nature conservation activities around the world. I believe our coordinated efforts will strengthen the connection among all members of the family of the earth.
For all people, all lives, and future of the earth, I hope the conference negotiations will bring fruitful results beyond each stakeholder’s interests."