Threats to the Arctic: An Interview with Professor Scott Elias

One of the Five Marks of Mission which we affirm as a charity is “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth”. In this interview with Professor Scott Elias, we examine the threats to the Arctic from climate change.

Threats to the Arctic discusses all the current threats to this fragile region, emphasizing the interconnections between many environmental impacts, as well as the teleconnections between events already emerging in the Arctic (ocean circulation changes, melting of sea ice, glaciers and ice sheets) and other parts of the world. The book’s aim is to inform readers about the impending, sometimes irreversible changes coming to the Arctic. University students, environmental engineers, policymakers and sociologists with an interest in the role of the Arctic in global change will benefit from the book’s unique perspective. As this remote, inhospitable part of the world that few people will ever visit provides amazing insights, we can no longer have an ‘out of sight – out of mind’ approach to the environmental upheavals taking place in the Arctic.

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Renew our World

Renew our World calls for a rethink in our relationship with nature. Peacemaker Trust is pleased to share in and promote this call.

As Christian organisations working in the fields of development, justice and creation care, we call for a fundamental rethink regarding humanity’s relationship with nature in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe that God has created an interdependent world within which humans have a responsibility to use the gifts and resources contained in the natural world wisely, cautiously and sustainably. We acknowledge that this has rarely been the case, and mourn both the rapid loss of biodiversity worldwide, and the consequent problems for human health and livelihoods. We endorse and echo the words of Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Acting Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity: “The continuing loss of biodiversity on a global scale represents both direct and indirect threats to our health and wellbeing. Biodiversity loss and ecosystem change, including through land use change, habitat fragmentation and loss, and climate change, can increase the risk of disease emergence and spread among people, animals and other living species.”

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Ecology and Pandemics

“At a new biobank in the Amazon, scientists are working to identify the risks of a new infectious diseases. It’s part of a growing field of science looking at the interactions between human health and environmental change.”

Veterinarian Prof Alessandra Nava is part of a team trying to build up a library of viruses circulating in the Amazon in a bid to forestall a similar outbreak here. Prof Nava said. “We saw it coming. We expected a pandemic like this.”

Across the world a web of scientists – epidemiologists, ecologists, biologists, geneticists, vets – are working on the intersection between human and animal health. “The clearance of forests for crops and livestock . .  can negatively impact the environment, creating a cascade of factors that facilitates the emergence and spread of diseases.”  Land use change is the most important driver in the emergence of zoonotic infectious diseases, which are often triggered by human destruction and exploitation of wildlife-rich habitats. 

This fascinating article looks at a number of factors enabling the expansion of disease into new areas. The conclusion is that “We are completely dependent on nature and have made our future vulnerable”.  Previously we thought that the consequences of this unfettered development were way in the future.  Now we know this is immediate and urgent – and we are all vulnerable. “It’s in moments like this that real change can happen.”

Read the full article Breaking down the Amazon: how deforestation could drive the next pandemic on Unearthed

People and Planet 2.0 – Can the Covid-19 tragedy be a historic reset?

Amid global crisis and suffering, we want to think about some of the ways to find hope for humanity and the planet. How do we immediately need to start communicating and acting to make “People and Planet 2.0” a healthier, more stable new normal after COVID-19?

In this webinar hosted by the World Evangelical Alliance’s Sustainability Center, Dave Bookless offered five suggestions worth repeating. Dave’s presentation slides may be viewed here.

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