Amazon Nixes Warehouse Development in Canadian Wetland, a Global Safety Net for Saving Life on Earth, Introducing “We’re All In,” and Can Beavers Help Prevent Climate Change?

by | Apr 13, 2021 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Amazon nixes warehouse development in Canadian wetland, plus building a global safety net for saving life on Earth. Introducing “We’re All In,” and can beavers help prevent climate change?




Until 2020, the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change were treated as separate issues. But COVID-19 changed all that. Extensive shifts in deforestation, along with resulting shifts in mammalian populations were already widely known in the scientific community as vectors for animal-to-human virus cross-contamination. Witness HIV from primates in lowland forests of the Congo, the Zika virus from the Lake Victoria Basin, and now, COVID-19 from the Hunan region of China.

The coronavirus pandemic drives home the point that climate change and biodiversity loss are interdependent; that focusing on one over the other risks collapsing the entire global ecosystem. So, eleven scientists recently got together to propose a Global Safety Net for Saving Life on Earth, aka The Global Deal For Nature.

Why a Global Safety Net or biodiverse buffer zone matters is in the margin of safety it provides. Think of the Earth as a human body. We learned that with some COVID patients, their multiple systems in their bodies got overwhelmed by the disease, or their body overreacted to the attack on multiple systems by the coronavirus. Either way, all their systems shut down, and they died. Without a biodiverse buffer zone the same can happen to the Planet.

The idea of the Global Safety Net is to achieve target-based goals to protect those intact or semi-intact natural habitats. The Global Safety Net has been branded the Global Deal for Nature to make it palatable to politicians and for regular folk like us. And it’s designed to provide a framework for adaptation by all nations. After all, preserving the 50% of the natural world that remains involves every country on the planet. 

According to its website, a petition endorsing the Global Deal for Nature has been signed by over 3 million people from over 92 countries. For a deeper dive into the Global Deal for Nature, check out

DEEPER DIVE: SciencesAdvances, Global Deal for Nature



Amazon is a company not often associated with pro-environmental stances. Many on social media have vilified it for its massive carbon footprint. 

The good news is Amazon did the right thing recently when it announced that the company has pulled out of a proposed deal involving a large swath of provincially significant wetlands in Pickering, Ontario, Canada—near Toronto. “Provincially significant” means it’s among the most valuable wetlands in the Ontario province, and development there is usually forbidden under provincial policy. Such sites usually have rich biodiversity and can naturally help control floods. Said a spokesperson for the behemoth online retailer, “The environmental impacts were absolutely part of our decision not to select the site.”

Pickering’s mayor says he is disappointed to hear that Amazon has decided not to build a warehouse in his city. The development has faced months of controversy because in fall of 2020, Doug Ford, the Premier of Ontario, had issued a Minister’s Zoning Order, effectively overriding Ontario’s environmental protection legislation regarding wetlands in order to fast-track the 50 thousand square foot building. The move outraged many Canadian environmental groups including Grandmothers Acting to Save the Planet (GASP4Change).

Since Amazon nixed the deal, the developer —Triple Group– announced its voluntary commitment not to damage the site, a commitment formalized in Ontario Divisional Court. Environmental groups hailed the temporary protection that the undertaking provides, but are calling on the government to back down from its efforts to push the development ahead.  

In fact, two environmental groups have asked for a judicial review of the Ford government’s move to issue an MZO for the property. The groups, Environmental Defence and Ontario Nature, argue the government acted illegally because of the site’s designation as a provincially significant wetland. 

DEEPER DIVE: CBC, Global News, National Observer



Back in 2017, former president Donald Trump jettisoned the United States from the Paris Climate accord. Immediately afterward, We’re Still In was born.

Mayors, county executives, governors, tribal leaders, college and university leaders, businesses, faith groups, cultural institutions, healthcare organizations, and investors stated in an open letter to the world–openly defiant of the Trump Administration—they were joining forces for the first time to declare that they will continue to support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement.

Since then, over 3,800 municipal, university, business and faith leaders, as well tribal and health organization heads have signed onto “We’re Still In.” Collectively, these signers represent over half of America’s population, and nine trillion of its 13 trillion-dollar economy.

The group emphasizes its signatories come from both red and blue states. For instance, Carmel, Indiana mayor Jim Brainard, has pushed his town to make a variety of changes to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. City vehicles are now hybrids or run on biofuel. About 800 streetlights have been retrofitted with LED bulbs. Roundabouts in 122 intersections replaced traffic lights, a change that means cars don’t burn gas while idling at a stop.

We’re Still in also co-wrote a report in 2020 which found that current levels of technology and investment make it possible for the U.S. to achieve 90% clean energy generation by 2035. It also sponsored a recent poll that reveals the American public supports the core tenets of a recovery and stimulus that expands renewables. 

DEEPER DIVE: We’re Still In, Climate Nexus


Can beavers help prevent climate change? Jen Vanderhoof of Washington State’s King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks thinks so. Vanderhoof said that after beavers build a dam, “not only do you have more water being stored on the surface, but it’s also filtering down into the groundwater, and so you’re storing more water both above and below the surface that way.”

That can help prevent erosion and reduce flooding after heavy precipitation.

And that may be why, 500 years after being hunted to extinction for their soft warm fur, meat and glandular oil used in medicines, beavers are back in Britain. The British government, along with nudging from The Beaver Trust created a program in 2015 setting up beavers in specific natural habitats and enclosures around the British Isles.

The program ended late last year. So how’d they do? Apparently, “nature’s environmental engineers” have lived up to their name. A British study on beaver reintroduction concludes that other wildlife has greatly benefitted from the beavers’ presence, while their dam building activities have also helped reduce the risk of flooding to some flood threatened human settlements.

Beavers have had a positive influence on the flood-prone community of East Budleigh. A family of beavers has constructed six dams upstream of the village, with the result that peak flood flows through the village have been measurably and significantly reduced.

The report also highlights the ability of beavers to help clean water supplies, removing large quantities of soil, manure, slurry and fertilizers from rivers and streams. At a place where beavers had built 13 dams and ponds, researchers found that beavers were playing “a significant role in filtering these pollutants from water”. 

DEEPER DIVE: Exeter, BBC, EcoWatch