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Proactive Vs. Protective Climate Action

When a meditator sits on their cushion, their work is to balance two things – effort and concentration. You can’t have effort without concentration, and you also can’t have concentration without effort. The two inform and rely on each other, and it is only by maintaining an active balance between the two that meditators reach their goal.

The same is true in the process of healing the earth. Because humanity is an integral part of the natural world, we rely on the planet’s organic ecosystems just as those ecosystems rely on us. This means it’s not enough for us to simply stop certain actions – we also need to start other, healing actions.

For effective climate change reversal, we need to find a balance between proactive and protective action.

Proactive & Protective Climate Action

Even if the world stopped producing 100% of carbon emissions today, that would not be enough to heal the planet. The world’s ecosystems exist to balance and maintain global health – and we need them to run properly if we want a healthy planet. This means we not only need to stop doing environmental harm – we also need to rebuild what we’ve already harmed.

Proactive is defined as controlling or creating a situation by causing something to happen rather than responding after the fact. Yes, we realize that everything we are going to do with climate change reversal and biodiversity building is coming after the fact. But if we think of each new day as a blank slate for environmental action, it is helpful for us to think about certain actions as getting ahead of the curve, making definitive and active choices to ensure the future does not get worse. An example of a proactive act would be putting legislation in place that controls the amount of carbon corporations are allowed to emit annually. Or transitioning our societies from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

Protective is defined as defending or guarding from attack, invasion, and loss. This is the counterbalance we need to heal the planet. Planting trees to restore the carbon-holding forests; protecting the biodiversity of the planet through wildlife conservation so ecosystems can interconnect and support each other; regrowing ocean’s coral reefs.

We need a balance between proactive actions (stopping harm) and protective actions (rebuilding natural ecosystems).

The UN’s 3 Guidelines to Climate Action

The Convention on Biological Diversity was established in 1992 as a legal tool to help the globe protect and build biodiversity – everything from ecosystems to species to genetic resources. It has now been ratified by 196 nations and is a touchstone for best practices in rebuilding the planet’s health.

The CBD recently shared this chart below. We think the simplified break-down of climate action is helpful – this gives us focus and helps us understand what types of actions are healing for the planet.

The chart interestingly includes a 2-1 ratio of protective to proactive actions for climate action. Which to us suggests that protecting and rebuilding biodiversity is always going to be our strongest bet for global healing.

Preserving Natural Habitats (Protective)

In the last 50 years, the world has lost 2/3 of its wildlife. The Living Planet Report of 2020 found that deforestation and human-induced climate change were responsible for the decline.

The United Nations recently reported that, of the estimated 8 million plant and animal species on the planet, 1 million will be at risk of extinction within decades.

Nearly half of the earth’s land is used for food production.

A big part of planetary healing is protecting the world’s natural habitats and ensuring we do not lose more biodiversity on our planet. Without interconnected ecosystems working as they should, the earth becomes imbalanced. And when any system is imbalanced, it is prone to sickness.

Some ways you can work to protect habitats are:

· Learning and educating yourself about how ecosystems interrelate

· Eating consciously in a way that diminishes land use (veganism, vegetarianism)

· Politically getting involved to protect natural spaces and species in your area

· Supporting organizations that protect wildlife

· Building a desire to protect nature by enjoying natural habitats in your area

· Protecting forests which act as natural carbon sinks

· Respecting, restoring, and learning from indigenous people

As the human population grows and technology advances, it is easy for many of us to live behind screens and disengage from what’s going on in the natural world. But we must remember that nature is literally the foundation for everything we do and how we exist. Humanity is a part of nature and we cannot ever live apart. We are all in this together.

Safeguard Biodiversity (Protective)

Biodiversity is the variety of life in an ecosystem. The reason why diversity within ecosystems is so important is because each species brings something to make the system work. Pollinators are responsible for 1/3 of the world’s crops. Invertebrates provide health and nutrients to soil that heightens our food’s nutrition. Healthy balances of plant and bacteria life in water support proper oxygenation that is crucial for life. Every piece to the natural puzzle is important – often in ways we don’t even understand.

Our actions have caused extreme damage to ecosystems and diversity on this planet. It is our responsibility to begin protecting and rebuilding biodiversity.

Some ways we can encourage biodiversity are:

· Using restorative and regenerative agricultural practices

· Diminishing pesticide-use in food production

· Putting limits on hunting, poaching, and fishing practices

· Learning about biodiversity in different ecosystems

· Educating yourself about endangered species in your area and what threatens them

· Volunteering for habitat restoration projects

· Educating yourself about the interlink between climate and social justice

Just as we are stronger as people when we celebrate each other’s differences, so the natural world gains resiliency the more diverse its ecosystems.

Halve Carbon Footprint (Proactive)

The United Nations has reported that man-made carbon emissions need to drop by 45% by 2030 to ensure the future health of our planet.

Halving the carbon footprint is one of the biggest steps toward reversing climate change. By keeping the temperature of the planet at 1.5 degrees Celsius or below, the world will be safeguarded from temperatures that will threaten life on the planet.

This is a huge proactive action we need to bring the planet back to balance. This requires collaboration between corporations and individuals.

Some actions to take are:

Transitioning to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar

· Electric transport

· Limiting food waste

· Buying less

· Getting politically involved in clean energy initiatives in your community

· Reducing water and electricity use

It is possible for us to return to a healthy planet. We need to remember that nature is great at healing itself, so our protective efforts are just as important as our proactive actions. And the more we educate ourselves about nature and see how interconnected we are, the more motivated we will feel to choose every-day actions that help the planet heal.

At NJIN, we are passionate about helping young people discover their earth-purpose. Our programs are designed to offer structured curriculum and real-world experiences within a space that encourages students to roam freely in nature, growing their innovation, self-exploration, and experimentation. Join us!



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