Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Hopeful insights on climate and biodiversity in LDE white paper

A banker who puts making money second and makes a profit nonetheless. A farmer who stops ploughing and using insecticides but still has a good harvest. A new white paper by Leiden-Delft-Erasmus and Naturalis Biodiversity Center shows how the meeting of disciplines provides solutions to climate change and biodiversity loss.

Maintaining ecosystems and promoting biodiversity is an effective way of mitigating climate change. However, climate and biodiversity researchers and policymakers do not make enough use of one another’s knowledge, experience and solutions. ‘The LDE universities want to integrate the two fields even more to encourage policymakers to do so too’, says LDE Dean Wim van den Doel. ‘Because it is becoming increasingly clear how strongly linked climate and biodiversity are. We can only find real solutions to climate change and biodiversity loss by tackling these problems integrally.’

The rich emit much more CO2

In a new initiative, Leiden-Delft-Erasmus is exploring how much interdisciplinary research there already is within the universities and what opportunities there are to expand interdisciplinary biodiversity and climate research collaboration. The fifth LDE white paper Verbind klimaat en biodiversiteit – Voor samenleving, economie en natuur (Linking Climate and Biodiversity – For Society, the Economy and Nature, in Dutch with an English summary, Ed.) provides an impetus.

Professor of Anthropology of Sustainability and Livelihood Marja Spierenburg, for example, shows that a fair distribution between rich and poor is essential to stopping climate change and biodiversity loss. ‘The richest one per cent of people on Earth emit twice as many greenhouse gases as the poorest half of the world’s population. We have to limit the emissions and pollution that rich people are able to cause.’

Economics with ecology as the starting point

Professor of Banking & Finance Dirk Schoenmaker from Erasmus University Rotterdam takes aim at a sacred cow within economics. ‘The entire objective within economic thought has to change. If the starting point of your thinking is ecology, then there are no two ways about it: we need to fly less.’

Endangered species and white houses

Naturalis director Koos Biesmeijer, known for his research on bees, discusses the relationship between biodiversity and climate. ‘At two degrees of warming, six per cent of species become extinct.’

Herman Russchenberg, Professor of Atmospheric Remote Sensing and Director of the TU Delft Climate Institute, explains that painting all houses white actually generates more heat in cities, thus threatening the already fragile vegetation. As a ‘cloud professor’ he may be researching the use of clouds to control the climate but he hopes this will never be necessary. ‘If you start tinkering with the climate, you could bring all kinds of political conflicts on yourself and cause biodiversity patterns to change.’

‘There is a lot we can already do’

Eight researchers offer insights and solutions in this publication. And eight others explain how they are already working with these solutions. For instance in banks, on farms and wind farms, in the Meijendel dune area and in the courtroom. ‘There is a lot we can already do’, says Diny Tubbing, Delft city ecologist. Bird nesting bricks and rooftop greenery, for example.

The solution begins with a vision

So much is already happening but more still needs to be done. Jan Willem Erisman, Professor of Environment and Sustainability in Leiden, writes in the introduction, ‘It begins with a shared vision on how we want to live in the future within the framework of a liveable Earth. An Earth that provides enough space for everyone to live, work, travel and relax comfortably together.’  His colleague Paul Behrens also concludes all of society would flourish. He paints a picture of sustainable new farming methods that would boost biodiversity and save vast amounts of CO2 emissions.

This website uses cookies.  More information.