Hey, how much is planet Earth worth? Plus, meet Client Earth and Re:Wild. Also, re-wilding Santa Monica Mountains National Park.
How Much is Earth Worth? Client Earth, Re:Wild, & ReWilding Santa Monica Mountains National Park
HOW MUCH IS THE EARTH WORTH?
Can you really put a price on Mother Nature? It turns out, you can. According to the World Wildlife Federation’s Living Planet Index, as of 2018, Mother Nature is worth a cool $125 trillion.
So what is the Living Planet Index, and how did they arrive at that figure? First the authors started with the assumption that nature underpins all economic activity. Second, they looked at the framework that the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) developed for valuing nature. Third take include the NCP, or Nature’s Contribution to People. The NCP is a categorical assessment of value beyond an assignable monetary value. An example of that would be the knowledge systems of indigenous communities and other local communities.
In the past, western culture would discount local and indigenous knowledge, only caring about the dollar figure—for example that the natural land-based assets of the USA are worth about $24 trillion. But guess what? Had they not ignored indigenous knowledge back in the early 20th century, American farmers might have avoided plowing away all the prairie grass of the Great Plains, which created a situation where the topsoil was blown away leading to the Great Dustbowl years and ravaging food security, contributing to the Great Depression.
When you put it all together, you’ve created the Living Planet Index—a measure of the state of the planet’s biological diversity based upon population trends of vertebrate species from terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats.
Why does the LPI matter to us? We said it before and we’ll say it again. If you can put a price on Nature, then certain populations will pay attention, and act to save it.
DEEPER DIVE: World Economic Forum, Living Planet Index, WWF
So, if you can put a price on Mother Nature, can Mother Nature hire a lawyer? According to the group ClientEarth, yes, yes it can.
Here’s what this group’s website says: ClientEarth is one of the world’s most ambitious environmental organisations. We work in partnership across borders, systems and sectors, using the law to protect life on earth.
We believe that a future in which people and planet thrive together isn’t just possible: it’s essential. We use the power of the law to change the system – informing, implementing and enforcing the law, advising decision-makers on policy and training legal and judicial professionals.
In other words, ClientEarth uses the power of law to change the system for a brighter, healthier future.
And here’s why ClientEarth matters: 75% of the world’s food supply relies on pollinators; The Earth’s oceans produce 50% of the world’s O2; and 80% of land-based life depends on forests. At the end of the day, pollinators, oceans and forests are threatened by laws designed to exploit those resources. Since these laws affect our world, new laws can help rebalance the power between governments, industries and people.
According to its website, ClientEarth is actively involved in over 160 cases “tackling the most impressive environmental challenges.” Of the many, I think this is the most striking:
After a five-year legal battle, a Brussels court ruled that the Brussels regional government has breached EU law by failing to correctly monitor and protect the health of its citizens against harmful levels of air pollution. The authorities have been ordered to take immediate action to address the issue.
This ruling sets a precedent to sue other nations (including our own) for breach of its constitutional duty to protect its citizens by allowing air pollution to persist by private industry.
DEEPER DIVE: ClientEarth, Brussels Times
Here’s a wacky concept: What if we were to admit that the wild is extraordinary? That beyond its colorful animals, plants, fungi and mesmerizing landscapes, what makes the wild so powerful is that it exists around and within us all?
What if we admitted that it isn’t restricted by political borders? That the wild is for the 100%, all of us? What if we finally recognized that our livelihood and the health of our planet depends on the wild.
Re:wild is answering all those questions boldly, “yes”! Re:wild is a movement to build a world in balance with the wild. It works to protect and restore biodiversity, the primary solution to the triple threat of climate change, extinction and pandemics. It’s based on the idea that we don’t need to reinvent Earth. We just need to rewild it.
The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation has aligned with about 180 partner organizations to create Re:Wild, because “We believe that collaborative, local community-led conservation action is the key to successful and enduring change,” according to the website.
This army of organizations, re-branded as Re:wild is working furiously to restore Biodiversity hotspots, high biodiversity wilderness areas and key biodiversity areas. What’s the diff? Biodiversity Hotspots are biogeographic regions holding exceptional concentrations of endemic species that are severely threatened.
HBWAs are greater than 1 million hectares in area, and retain an extraordinary wealth of biodiversity, and are still 705 to 90% intact.
Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) are sites that contribute significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity, of which there are 18,000 globally.
And why does the Re:wild movement matter to us? Climate change experts agree that maintaining and restoring the planet’s terrestrial and marine biodiversity is a major key in fighting climate change.
DEEPER DIVE: Re:Wild,
REWILDING THE SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS NATIONAL RECREATIONAL PARK
Re:wild and social media company Snap, Inc., are teaming up with the National Park Service to rewild California’s Santa Monica Mountains’ National Recreation Area by planting 100,000 native trees and plants. The ambitious project was announced in May and will focus on revitalizing the areas of the park hardest hit by the 2018 Woosley and 2013 Springs fires.
“Rewilding the ecosystems of the hard-hit Santa Monica mountains will not only ensure Los Angeles residents are able to continue to enjoy the wild so close to their homes, but will also help provide climate stability, clean air and water; protect wildlife; and prevent fires and drought,” said Penny Langhammer, Re:wild executive vice president, in a joint statement by NPS and Re:Wild. “This is a wonderful model that will make California’s future a little greener—and, if partnerships like this can be developed in other biodiversity hotspots around the world, make our planet’s future a whole lot healthier.”
The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area—which is on the ancestral home of the Chumash/Tongva people—is part of the California Floristic Province, just one of 36 Biodiversity Hotspots in the world. These irreplaceable sites harbor an exceptional diversity of wildlife, including many species that are rare and found nowhere else on the planet. Researchers estimate that no more than a quarter of the California Floristic Province is still intact after decades of ranching and more recently, drought, development and fires. A mere 10 percent of its riparian forests and wetlands still exist.
The National Park Service recruits college interns and volunteers to help rewild these areas, including students, youth groups, private businesses, and volunteers from low-income and underserved communities in Los Angeles, connecting individuals of different backgrounds with the wild. This project will strategically restore a combination of trees and plants—including native grasses, herbs and shrubs—that together can help recreate a healthy ecosystem.
DEEPER DIVE: NPS, ReWild.org