Biosphere Earth — 12: Regrowing a Beautiful Climate

This blog is part of a series on Biosphere Earth. To review other posts in this series, visit the TOC. Here’s part 12.

The carbon emissions reduction potentials — from rescuing and stewarding our planetary life-support system are, frankly, enormous. As in mind-blowing.

I’ll show that in the next blog.

What’s most important, first, is to realize that rescuing and stewarding our biosphere is so good for our climate that the enormous carbon reductions you’ll read about tomorrow are secondary to the overall suite of climate system benefits.

And these benefits compound in a net positive way. The five essentials for modern biospheric functionality:

Each of these delivers enormous moisture system values, not just carbon reduction. And moisture, at wilderness scale, brings more productivity, more natural beauty, more food, less warming, less drought, and more climate and economic stability.

The Bio-Physical Interface

Healthy ecosystems are giant moisture storage & circulation systems. Forests are particularly good. Especially in the Tropics, where productivity is most concentrated. As a rule increasing the density and wellbeing of vegetation and soil-based ecosystems on land and the density and wellbeing of vegetated and coral ecosystems in waters, provides stabilization services we need to resurrect to stop climate change and save ourselves.

On land, vegetation and soils are bio-physically designed as organisms to capture and circulate moisture for as long as possible within themselves and their ecosystems. Think of the spongey-ness of green leaves compared to the dryness of sand or the imperviousness of asphalt. From a moisture perspective plant organisms are our best resource for creating and managing moisture security. Leaves can be thought of as self-managing and self-maintaining surface area technology specifically designed to harvest and circulate water.

Here’s a diagram of how life and vegetation interact:

The Bio-Physical Interface (Chris Searles)

Land is easiest to visualize, especially in a brief blog. Above is the biophysical moisture circulation process: Moisture evaporates off open waters. As it moves through the air over lands some of it falls to the Earth. Once captured by vegetation, soils and other organisms moisture is circulated for as long as possible within the local ecosystem. Once moisture evaporates into the air it goes up & away, moving on atmospherically to the next recipient.

Throughout all of this processing moisture-/bio-rich ecosystems provide a bunch of essential climate stablization functions: heat absorption, moisture storage, hydrological function, hydrological stability, hydrological moisture transfers, flood water management, extreme temperature buffering, watershed maintenance, temperature maintenance, species habitat, habitat maintenance, and local cooling — in addition to the enormous carbon emissions reductions you’ll read about tomorrow (aka, biological productivity).

Moisture-rich ecosystems also co-determine air circulation and moisture circulation for the global biosphere.

Maintaining this suite of climate services is most of what we have to worry about in regards to defending oursevles against climate warming and destabilization. Depending on ecosystem location, type, biological asset portfolio, level of maturity, and overall conditions, each ecosystem performs differently. But with techniques from permaculture and other regenerative, ecological sciences we can counter global warming with biospheric rescue and stewardship.

It’s worth mentioning— You can see the moisture — and the beauty, and the coolness, that result from robust, healthy, wild ecosystems.

For example:

Moisture circulation above the Amazon (2020)
“Surface temperature distribution in a mixed landscape with forest.” (Ellision, et al, 2017)

Why not have more of this in our every day lives?

Climate Reversal…

Can we reverse climate change with vegetation? Yes, to some degree at local scale. Look at the graph directly above. The impacts of vegetation are obvious. Areas with deepest vegetation are about 36° Fahrenheit cooler (20°C) than areas with asphalt.

Globally, we can apply these principles at grand scales. For example, restoring forest footprint and functionality in the Tropics looks like the best and probably only way to reduce atmospheric drought, by restoration of atmospheric rivers above places like California.

Climatologically, we have to think of the Earth as a what it is to us — a continuous but finite sphere in continuous biospheric production —not just a planet confronting climate change.

We can’t reverse global warming just by reducing emissions, but we can slow it and reduce its effects at local to global scale through biospherically-guided revegetation in waters and on lands.

Biologically-enhanced and strengthened moisture circulation literally cools and maintains microclimate at a more Goldilocks temperature than zero vegetation. The restoration process can go pretty quickly, once things are established.

More tomorrow! Thanks



Read the previous blog, “Resolution.”

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