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Nature Restoration is Not the Answer to Climate Change



When it comes to the fight against climate change, nature restoration is not the fix-all solution it may appear to be. Nature restoration put simply, is the restoration of previously degraded environments through acts such as planting trees. It is not uncommon to see nature restoration as a proposed solution to climate change since restoring ecosystems would produce more plants, mainly trees, to absorb carbon dioxide within the atmosphere which is the most prominent greenhouse gas. However, nature restoration won’t help anything as long as fossil fuels are still in use. While this idea does sound good in theory, researchers have found that nature restoration can only marginally reduce climate change, and it alone would not be enough to mitigate the dangerous impacts of climate change because the emissions from fossil fuels would greatly counteract any progress made by nature restoration. The only way for there to be real change is by quitting fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels are the largest source of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In fact, fossil fuels contributed to 86% of all carbon dioxide emissions in the past decade, while deforestation has contributed to 11% of emissions. Based on these statistics, it is clear fossil fuels are playing a much bigger role in climate change than deforestation, thus, fixing deforestation would not have nearly as big of an impact as quitting fossil fuels would.

None of this is to say that nature restoration is not important. Trees do indeed help to cool our atmosphere in more ways than just by absorbing carbon dioxide. For example, by releasing water vapors and aerosols trees are able to cool their surroundings. However, it must be highlighted that nature restoration is not the most effective way to mitigate climate change and thus should not be the main focus. The main focus should be on moving away from fossil fuels and using renewable energy sources instead.

Switching to clean and renewable energy for our main energy source is the best way to stop using fossil fuels, but this calls for big societal changes. For many, fossil fuels are more convenient and there is a big market for them, but none of this will matter in the long run once the damage to our Earth is already done. To achieve this goal of quitting them would take a substantial amount of societal changes in energy technologies and infrastructure that goes beyond the individual and household levels.

Climate change is a massive threat as the Earth is warming at a faster rate than it ever has before. The only real way to stop this is to get all greenhouse gas emissions down to zero as soon as possible and the most effective way to do this is by saying goodbye to fossil fuels. Relying on nature restoration alone to help save our planet would be a dangerous mistake.


Citations

1.“Nature restoration no substitute for cutting fossil fuels” Phys.org.

https://phys.org/news/2022-07-nature-substitute-fossil-fuels.html

2.“Forests help reduce global warming in more ways than one” Science News.

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/forest-trees-reduce-global-warming-climate-cooling-carbon

3.“What can we do to slow or stop global warming?” Climate.gov.

https://www.climate.gov/news-features/climate-qa/what-can-we-do-slow-or-stop-global-warming

4.“What are the solutions to climate change?” Greenpeace.

https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/challenges/climate-change/solutions-climate-change/

5.“Causes and Effects of Climate Change” United Nations.

https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/science/causes-effects-climate-change



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