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The Commonwealth is bringing together global experts to thrash out new ideas for not just reducing climate change but actually reversing its effects by mimicking success stories in nature.
At a two-day gathering on Friday and Saturday at the 52-country organisation’s headquarters in London, a diverse band of experts in fields such as biomimicry, carbon sequestration, design and regeneration traded ideas for practical schemes that could pull carbon out of the air and put it back into the Earth.
Rather than a series of presentations, the conference instead saw experts from around the world huddle in groups to brainstorm.
“Some of our island states in the Pacific and the Caribbean will be hit first and potentially disappear, therefore climate change has been an issue of real importance to the Commonwealth,” Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland told AFP.
– Termite mound buildings –
Examples were shared of concrete absorbing carbon, ecologically destroyed landscapes flourishing again through getting carbon back into the soil, and getting more productive agriculture through mimicking the ecosystems of wild, untended land.
There were discussions on buildings designed like termite mounds that ventilate themselves with cool air, or making ships’ hulls like shark skin.
Also mooted were vertical axis wind turbines arranged in school-of-fish formation so the ones behind gain momentum from the vortices, creating far more wind power than regular wind farms.
“It’s stunning, but this is not inventing anything new. Life’s been at it for 3.8 billion years,” biomimicry expert Janine Benyus told AFP.
“We’re talking about bringing carbon home — rebalancing the problem of too much carbon in the air and not enough in the soil,” she added, stepping out of a workshop.
With its diverse membership covering a quarter of the world’s countries, action within the Commonwealth often paves the way for wider global agreements.
The climate change accords reached at its biennial summit in Malta last December were instrumental in the Paris COP21 UN climate conference deal struck later that month, which agreed to cap global warming at less than two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.
– ‘Practical, practical, practical’ –
Scotland will take forward ideas and outcomes from the London workshop to the COP22 summit in Marrakesh in November.
“We’re setting off the starter pistol for this race,” the secretary-general said.
“The Commonwealth is seeking to be the platform through which ideas can be transferred.
However, in the arena of climate change, many intriguing proposals get ditched on the grounds of cost, practicality or fears that they could end up inflicting environmental damage.
“We’re looking at how we can share real solutions and help each other to get there faster,” said Scotland.
“We’re saying ‘practical, practical, practical’. If it works, it’s affordable, implementable and makes the difference, then we need people to understand they can believe in it.”
Some sessions focused on so-called big picture ideas, looking at Earth as a complete system.
Delegates discussed how carbon can be used as a resource, in which returning it to the ground can bring about lasting soil fertility and jobs and thereby political stability.
“Life creates conditions conducive to life. It’s about creating new virtuous circles rather than vicious ones,” said Daniel Wahl, who designs regenerative cultures.
“If we do a good job, we can find the funding because the will is there,” he told AFP.
“The time of ‘them and us’ thinking is past. The people who were against each other now have to come together.
“People are dying today from the effects of climate change. To them, it’s not an intellectual debate any more.”
Credit: Daily Mail Online
A group of students, faculty and support staff from the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), which is located at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus in Barbados, arrived in Belize yesterday (April 7 through to April 16) for an extensive field laboratory.
This marks the ninth year that the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre is funding a contingent of CERMES students and faculty to visit Belize, one of the region’s most diverse ecological settings, to put into action the range of tools they are learning, and observe the relationships between scientific theory and the measurement of critical variables and parameters.
The 13 students who hail from across the region were drawn from graduate studies in both climate change and water resources management. Dr. Leonard Nurse, Chairman of the Centre’s Board of Directors and coordinator of the climate change graduate programme, says the students will visit three sites in mixed groups and three according to their area of specialization. Dr. Nurse notes that the inter-disciplinary cohorts mirror the need for and will enable strong team ethic, cross-disciplinary competence and investigative skills.
His colleague Dr. Adrian Cashman, who coordinates the water resources management graduate programme, says the field laboratory is crucial. He notes that it has evolved over the years from being largely observational to an intensive field work exercise that is exposing the students to things rarely taught in the classroom, including critical soft skills such as communication and planning, while enabling a better appreciation for the myriad of possible sources of error and difficulties associated with field work. He says assignments based on the trip will account for a quarter of their respective course grades, adding that in the medium to long-term, there should be a separate field laboratory that spans a longer period and constituting an independent course.
Dr. Nurse agrees, noting that the programme’s value is lasting. He says since its inception, CERMES students have compiled nearly a decade of beach profile data showing the rapid rate of erosion at Monkey River, a site they will visit again. He says the students are also slated to investigate the carbon sequestration capacity of forest in the Ya’axche Golden Stream Reserve and visit the Blue Creek rice field site to examine the potential for greenhouse emissions from rice paddy fields. Dr. Cashman added that the water resources group will work on ground water issues in Orange Walk and Corozal to locate wells, with the intention of using GPS to measure the depth to water table. The students will then begin to build ground water maps, which will prove especially useful for planning purposes.
Bookmark this page for daily updates of activities carried out by the CERMES contingent. What to expect? Pictures, short videos and summaries of their beach and offshore profiling in the Monkey River Village area, carbon sequestration measurements in the Ya’axche Golden Stream Reserve, flow gauging and water quality sampling in upper Bladen River, visits to rice fields in Blue Creek and Altun Ha Maya and much more.