Sunday, October 16, 2016

Global ‘Bright Spots’ Offer Climate Hope

Scientists show how humans can improve poor people’s lives by reversing practices that destroy the environment and fuel climate change.

An initiative involving forest people in Indonesian Borneo is helping to protect the habitat of orangutans. (Image Credit: Meret Signer via Flickr) Click to Enlarge.
We are constantly bombarded with bad news about climate change and the state of the planet – to the point where problems can seem so great that we feel powerless to do anything about them.

But an international group of scientists is seeking to change that by collating examples from around the world of “bright spots” – practical, community-based initiatives that enhance people’s health and wellbeing, while at the same time protecting their environment and benefiting the climate.

Over the last two years, researchers have analysed 100 of more than 500 such case studies submitted to the newly established Good Anthropocene website.  They range from an initiative in Indonesia, in which forest people are offered healthcare in exchange for conserving natural resources, to a not-for-profit company in the Netherlands manufacturing modular, easily repairable mobile phones.

Human impact
Scientists from McGill University in Canada, Stockholm University in Sweden and Stellenbosch University in South Africa have studied some of the common factors behind successful projects.  Their research, in a new paper titled Bright Spots:  Seeds of a good Anthropocene, is published in the Ecological Society of America journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

The term “Anthropocene” refers to the geological epoch that began when human activities first started to have a global impact on the Earth’s ecology.

The report notes that anthropogenic change is compromising the future of the biosphere − the area of the planet’s surface and atmosphere that supports all life − and threatening the planetary conditions necessary for human societies to flourish.  However, it asserts that the future does not need to be bleak.

Among the initiatives highlighted are Health in Harmony, an award-winning project providing low-cost healthcare to marginalized communities in Indonesian Borneo in exchange for a commitment to protect natural resources and reduce deforestation.

Over the last five years, this has lead to a 68% reduction in illegal logging in Gunung Palung National Park, home to carbon-rich peat and one of the few remaining significant populations of orangutans.  Over the same period, there has been a significant improvement in the general health of people living around the park.

Read more at Global ‘Bright Spots’ Offer Climate Hope

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