The field of environmental health, which focuses on aspects of the natural and built environment that may affect human health, plays an increasingly evident role in climate solutions. A new study in the journal Nature offers evidence that biodiversity strengthens ecosystems, making them more resilient and capable of combating climate change, as Time Magazine reports below. And when we work toward stemming climate change, we protect the wellbeing and lives of people everywhere. Health professionals who may not have had any environmental health education, must take note. We already have data showing that spending time in open spaces has significant health benefits and that there is an association between children's cognitive development and green spaces. It's no longer possible to separate the environmental and public health fields. They are intertwined. If you have the time, check out the website of our partner organization, the National Environmental Health Association. They work toward advancing the environmental health and protection professional for the purpose of providing a healthful environment for all.
By Justin Worland I October 14, 2015
'It’s a solution that's available now'
For decades, scientists and policymakers have focused on changing human behavior to address climate change. Regulations have mandated reduced carbon emissions, subsidies have supported the development of renewable energy and individuals have worked to make their lifestyles more sustainable.
But, while addressing global warming will inevitably require humans to change behavior, a growing body of research supports the need for solutions rooted in nature: ensuring biodiversity, revitalizing forests and supporting other natural environments. A new study in the journal Nature offers the strongest evidence yet that biodiversity strengthens ecosystems, increasing their resistance to extreme climate events and improving their capacity to stem climate change.
For years, the researchers behind the study evaluated 46 grassland ecosystems in Europe and North America, collecting data on the production of organic matter called biomass. Because species in any given ecosystem rely on biomass for energy, biomass production serves as a metric for the health of a community. In grasslands areas with only one or two species, ecosystems’ biomass production declined by approximately 50% on average during extreme climate events. In communities with between 16 and 32 species, biomass production declined by only 25%.
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