Nature and climate solutions with TNC's Jennifer Morris
Jennifer Morris, CEO of The Nature Conservancy, on natural climate solutions and battling misinformation
The work she does is exciting and inspiring: from unlocking public and private funding to catalyze biodiversity and climate finance to restructuring global food systems in ways that support governments, businesses, local communities, indigenous peoples, and livelihoods.
She’s also a big believer in massive collective action and collaboration. From her earliest experiences teaching in Japan and Namibia to now leading the world’s largest environmental NGO, she knows that we have years, not decades to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises and we can only succeed if we do it together.
Take it away, Jen!
Too often, wind and solar farms are being built at the expense of protecting unique ecosystems or important agricultural lands. A tool we developed at The Nature Conservancy shows that isn’t necessary. Site Renewables Right shows that most areas have more than enough land to site renewable energy in places that make sense, like former mines or along roadways. Prioritizing these locations reduces conflicts and helps move wind and solar development along faster.
That’s why I’m so pleased that, just the other week, developers, conservation groups, agricultural organizations, tribal nations, and a host of other environmental and environmental justice groups agreed to help advance large-scale U.S. solar development while championing land conservation and supporting local community interests. Now, Site Renewables Right is being expanded to cover other areas where clean energy is growing rapidly, including Europe and India.
If that isn’t enough to put a smile on your face, take a look at these adorable sheep – it turns out that solar fields and sheep go great together.
Which brings me to my second piece of good news – the American Buffalo are going home! Since 2020, more than 1,000 bison born and raised on TNC preserves have made the long journey—over time and distance—back to their ancestral grazing lands.
This restoration is about more than land. It is about connecting Indigenous People – including James Rattling Leaf’s Rosebud Sioux Tribe– to their tribal identity. Click here to read more about rematriating buffalo and the Intertribal Buffalo Council, and don’t miss Ken Burn’s new documentary American Buffalo that premiered on PBS last month.
This month, as we mark World Mental Health Day, we know that ecoanxiety is on the rise. Across the globe, floods, storms, earthquakes, and drought permeate the headlines. I’ve had the chance to see the stress this causes first-hand when I meet with farmers and fishers and when I talk to my daughter and her friends; which is why I love this article about 6 ways to combat it.
Bad news headlines feed our anxiety, and these days it’s not just bad news about climate risks, but increasingly negative news about climate solutions as well. But any time a journalist or publication seems to be pitting one environmental group against another or criticizes a scientifically-backed solution, it may be more about getting clicks than telling the whole story.
For example, there has been a spate of news over the past year exposing greenwashing schemes. Some are using this to tar all companies buying carbon offsets or credits with the same brush. However, research shows that most of the companies that do so aren’t greenwashing; rather, they are climate leaders who are decarbonizing faster overall. There have even been recent headlines questioning value of planting trees, if you can believe that. I encourage you to get the facts on all of this!
WHAT YOU CAN DO
The climate and biodiversity crises are bigger than any one of us. The only way we can create a better world fast enough is to work together – and stay informed. The good news is there are many ways that you can help. I challenge you to bring people along with you on this journey.
Stay Curious – if a headline seems too good or too bad to be true, look further.*
Counter the Narrative – be willing to wade into difficult conversations because, as Katharine says so frequently, talking about these crises is one of the most important things you can do.
Ask Hard Questions of your community leaders and the businesses that you support – how are they showing up for climate and for nature and for people?
We have years, not decades, to solve these crises; but I’m confident that, together, we can find a way.
*One resource KH recommends is Climate Feedback, a "worldwide network of scientists sorting fact from fiction in climate change media coverage."