climate action alerts

A regional resource for climate advocates
June 3, 2022
Dear Reader,

In honor of the UN's World Environment Day on June 5, we are pleased to present this special “Nature Issue” of the Climate Collaborative newsletter. This issue examines some of the connections between climate change and the many varied ecosystems we know as "nature."

Nature's ecosystems play an important role in defending us against some of the worst impacts of climate change, while building resilience to survive the impacts we can’t avoid. Ecosystems are the ultimate multi-taskers: they remove carbon dioxide from our atmosphere and protect us from the effects of more intense and more frequent storms.

The articles we've collected for this issue examine how our natural ecosystems might just be our best weapon in the fight against devastating climate change impacts.

We hope you enjoy this issue and will share it widely!
Climate-Nature Connections
Eos, American Geophysics Union

Climate policy and negotiations have historically focused on the role of forests in sequestering carbon dioxide and mitigating global warming. A new study expanded this focus to review three biophysical mechanisms by which forests influence climate at different latitudes. Through evapotranspiration, canopy roughness, and albedo, forests influence climate and promote stability by reducing extreme temperatures and flooding in all seasons and at all latitudes, researchers found. Read about the new report here.
Interview: Save nature to protect people on fast-heating planet, IPCC scientist urges
 Megan Rowling, Thomson Reuters Foundation

An interview with a lead author of the IPCC Report makes explicit how human-driven climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption to nature, threatening the lives of billions around the world despite efforts to reduce the risks. Read the interview here.
Forests and Climate Change

Each year since 2000, forests are estimated to have removed an average of 2 billion metric tons of carbon from the atmosphere. This “carbon sink function” of forests is slowing climate change by reducing the rate at which CO2 builds up in the atmosphere. Careful forest management can therefore be an important strategy to help address climate change in the future. Healthy forests also provide a host of other benefits, from clean water to habitat for plants and animals that can live nowhere else. Read more here.
Nature-Based Solutions
Nova's Plant Earth series

If a tree falls in the forest, but someone sticks around to replant it, does it still make an impact in the fight against climate change? The answer, it seems, is yes. And, according to new research published in the journal Science, that’s exactly the tack we humans should take. The study, which presents a global map of degraded lands that could naturally support new trees, suggests that the best case scenario for forest restoration would remove more than 200 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere—enough to single-handedly offset two decades worth of global emissions produced at the current rate.
Principles and Safeguards for Natural Climate Solutions
Woodwell Climate Research Center

The Woodwell Climate Research Centers offers a comprehensive list of guiding principles in the use of Natural Climate Solutions, both at the national and regional levels. The principles represent a consensus of leading organizations with expertise in developing and implementing climate mitigation strategies involving ecosystems and management. Land, inland waters, and coastal ecosystems that on balance are now removing about 30% of emissions of carbon dioxide each year have significant potential to continue or even increase this critical function, though it will require careful analysis of options for deploying these natural climate solutions over the next few decades, and monitoring of results which may be affected as impacts of climate change evolve. Read about the principles here.
Foresters hope 'assisted migration' will preserve landscapes as the climate changes
Emma Jacobs, All Things Considered, NPR

Forestry technician Grace Smith has spent the spring working 10-hour days, planting trees in the woods of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge in Vermont. With 200 to 300 saplings a day to resettle in test plots before the weather gets too hot for young trees. The saplings include a variety of species chosen to see if they will increase the forest's resiliency. One variety of red spruce, especially chosen for its origins in the mountains of West Virginia, will become a test of what scientists call "assisted migration," introducing populations from warmer areas to northern latitudes projected to become hotter and drier in a changing climate. Listen to the program here.
Why Are Nature-Based Solutions on Climate Being Overlooked?
Fred Pearce, Yale Environment 360 | Photo credit: Getty Images

Hundreds of local projects to restore ecosystems on coastlines and mountains, in river valleys, forests, and grassy plains, have proved their worth in using restored nature to boost the resilience of millions of people to the ravages of onrushing climate change. Most are cheaper and more effective than any engineering alternatives, with more spinoff benefits for ecosystems and fewer downsides. But the political will and funding that could turn pilot projects for nature-based climate adaptation into policy norms benefitting hundreds of millions more people are still largely absent. Read more here.
Cool Tools
What is i-Tree?

i-Tree is a state-of-the-art, peer-reviewed software suite from the USDA Forest Service that provides urban and rural forestry analysis and benefits assessment tools. The i-Tree tools can help strengthen forest management and advocacy efforts by quantifying forest structure and the environmental benefits that trees provide.

By understanding the local ecosystem services that trees provide, i-Tree users can link forest management activities with environmental quality and community livability. Whether your interest is a single tree or an entire forest, i-Tree provides data that you can use to demonstrate value and set priorities for more effective decision-making. We invite you to explore this site to learn more about how i-Tree can make a difference in your community or forest. Read more here and get started at the Tools page for a full listing of analysis tools and utility programs.
Blue Carbon
Blue Carbon in Marine Protected Areas: A Guide to Understanding and Increasing Protection of Blue Carbon
NOAA, National Marine Sanctuaries

A story map that aims to broaden the reach and engagement of our recent reports on blue carbon in marine protected areas. "Ultimately, we hope to encourage and promote discussions around blue carbon, including research priorities, and policy and management considerations." View the story map here.
Blue carbon: The potential of coastal and oceanic climate action
By Julien Claes, Duko Hopman, Gualtiero Jaeger, and Matt Rogers, McKinsey & Company

Nature-based climate solutions in the world’s oceans can play an important role in conservation and carbon abatement efforts worldwide.

The oceans and coasts are the Earth’s climate regulators. Covering 72 percent of the planet’s surface, they have absorbed around 40 percent of carbon emitted by human activities since 1850. Coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, tidal marshes, and seagrass meadows act as deep carbon reservoirs, while marine ecosystems absorb and sequester greenhouse gases through the carbon cycle. The bad news for humankind is that both oceans and coasts are under pressure, amid atmospheric and marine warming, habitat destruction, pollution, and the impacts of overfishing and industrial activity. These destructive factors are undermining the role of oceanic systems in slowing climate change. Read more here.
Protecting Coastal Blue Carbon Through Habitat Conservation
NOAA Fisheries

By absorbing and storing carbon dioxide, coastal habitats play an important role in protecting the climate. Learn the basics about coastal blue carbon and what NOAA Fisheries is doing to protect coastal blue carbon habitats, including a pilot project in Orleans! Read about it here.
Around the Region
Grow Smart Cape Cod Offers Tool to Help Plan for Natural Resource Protection and Affordable Housing Development

The Association to Preserve Cape Cod (APCC) and the Housing Assistance Corporation (HAC) recently launched an innovative project to help guide land use planning decisions on Cape Cod for the protection of the region’s priority natural resources and the placement of year-round affordable housing.

The Grow Smart Cape Cod project, which features a website mapping tool and a set of recommendations, is the result of two years of collaboration between APCC and HAC. The goal of the project is to reduce competition between conservation and housing interests in land use decisions by underscoring the role of wastewater infrastructure development in helping to improve water quality, fostering housing density and affordability in identified priority housing areas, and protecting critical lands that support habitat, significant landscapes, drinking water, surface waters and other wetland resources.
Bringing Wetlands to Market
Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Center

Coastal wetlands provide critical ecosystem services. Research indicates that coastal wetlands capture and store carbon at rates three to five times greater than forests. . Wetlands’ ability to absorb and store tremendous amounts of blue carbon has received increased attention from policymakers, researchers, and educators in communities, state and federal agencies, and organizations in New England and beyond. Until recently, blue carbon storage has been a largely theoretical concept, but end users are expressing more interest in the practical applications of this relatively new concept. Read more here.
New Climate Collaborative "Conservation & Land Use" network in development

The Climate Collaborative was founded on the premise that by working together, collaboratively, we can accomplish great things.
Generally organized by networks -- or sectors -- our nonprofit works to pool resources, information, and best practices to promote environmental justice, implement legislative initiatives to curb fossil fuel emissions, reduce our region's contributions to climate change, and help protect us from its potentially devastating impacts.

If you would like to explore how you might help develop a new Conservation & Land Use network, please contact us at!
Around the U.S.
The Greening of Pittsburg
Podcast from Overheard at National Geographic

When it comes to examples of cities that have successfully emerged from the industrial age into the information age, look no further than Pittsburgh. But can it be done with an eye toward climate solutions? In this editorial collaboration with Project Drawdown, storyteller Matt Scott follows engineer and artist Clara Kitongo, architect Erica Cochran Hameen, and transportation manager Sarah Olexsak, three of the women working toward a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable community, straight out of the future they want to build. Listen here.
Around the World
The Climate Profit Buried in Scotland's Bogs
By David Segal, The New York Times | Photo Credit; Richard Elliott Aerials for The New York Times

Repairing the country’s extensive peatlands could help the world mitigate climate change. It could also make a fast-fashion billionaire even richer. Read more here.
India Reaffirms Rights of 'Mother Nature'
By Joseph Winters, Grist

The movement to recognize and protect the rights of nature scored another victory last month when an Indian court declared that the natural world should have legal rights on par with humans. In a 23-page decision released on April 19, the Madras High Court in Chennai said that Mother Nature should be granted “all corresponding rights, duties, and liabilities of a living person,” and that humans are required to protect it from harm. Justice Sundaram Srimathy, who wrote the opinion, also said that humans have a responsibility to preserve the natural world for posterity. Read about the decision here.


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Climate Action Alerts is compiled and edited by Fran Schofield. Got news? Please send your climate stories from home, school, workplace, town or organization to
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