Climate science urgent and systemic approaches to living with nature

27 July 2022

Melbourne, March 3rd, 2022 – Amidst severe flooding on Australia’s east coast and scorching heat in the west, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that we have “a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all". Earthwatch Australia calls for further support to bolster citizen science programs. 

“Waiting for and reading the IPCC report is always a difficult time,” said Fiona Sutton Wilson, Earthwatch CEO.    

The report makes it clear that human activity is worsening the health of our planetary ecosystems. In our backyard, Australasia is facing serious challenges in coastal degradation, increasing heat and loss of biodiversity. 

“To read how poor the outlook is on the health of our planet is both devastating and another reason to double down on our work.” 

The IPCC makes it clear that a combined effort with researchers and civil society is critical, and that knowledge from local citizens and Traditional Owners is necessary for effective solutions. 

Earthwatch addresses this gap, and has over 50 years of global experience in enabling environmental stewards through citizen science. 

“We see first-hand the hard work and passion mobilised every day by Earthwatch citizen scientists taking action on climate change and reversing biodiversity loss.”  

In Far North Queensland, wetlands scientist Jock Mackenzie has worked with community members to deliver mangrove monitoring programs. Data collected has helped informed the Australian National Greenhouse Accounts blue-carbon modelling and waterfront management actions for councils. 

Since 2009, the ClimateWatch app has been tracking wildlife response to climate change through community photography, addressing a critical data gap in Southern Hemisphere.

“Our recent reports on citizen science and behaviour change programs demonstrate the effectiveness of an engaged community and workforce. We need to accelerate investment in nature-based solutions for climate change”  

“We are proud of our science-led programs, with Earthwatch citizen scientists working alongside researchers to test and measure nature-based solutions here in Australia and in major cities across the world, providing data driven insights into their effectiveness,” Sutton Wilson said.  

Following the success of our UK counterpart, 2022 will see Tiny Forests growing in Australian cities. 

“Earthwatch citizen scientists will be measuring the benefits Tiny Forests bring to the urban environment – measuring their reduction of the urban heat island effect; surveying the wildlife that make these tiny rewilded spaces a home and refuge” 

“Citizen scientists will also be measuring the carbon that is stored as a result of the rapid maturation of the forest – another benefit of the Tiny Forest method – a mature forest within 10 years”, said Sutton Wilson. 

With citizens engaged in gathering the evidence of change over time, citizens can monitor the impact of climate change and provide nature-based solutions that restore the environment and make communities more resilient to the more extreme impacts of climate change. 

“Empowering people to save the natural world has never been more important,” said Ms Sutton Wilson.  

Businesses, governments, and philanthropists also have an important role. Working with citizens – employees and constituents - is critical in demonstrating a commitment to climate action and garnering community support.  

Earthwatch Australia recognizes the urgent need to act on climate now and welcomes support for citizen science programs and evidence-based solutions to make our environment and communities more resilient to the challenges we face.

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