Unleashing nature's potential
Harnessing nature, mosquitos are thriving, Knitting Nannas' winning "knit-ins"
Harnessing the power of nature is one of the most effective ways to prepare for climate impacts. I love how these solutions have all kinds of other benefits, from cleaning up the air to providing places for people to spend time outside.
The green corridors of Medellín, Colombia are cooling the whole city by reducing the heat island effect by up to 2C (that’s nearly 4F). In Berlin, Germany, “green pockets” are also home to surprising amounts of biodiversity. In Texas, cities on the Gulf of Mexico are using green infrastructure to protect homes from more intense flooding, while in Maryland, they’re building oyster reefs to buffer stronger storm surges. And in Britain, rewilding beaver populations is reducing flooding by fostering healthy wetlands -- and this sequesters carbon, too!
Other animals also help to store carbon in ecosystems, both by protecting the carbon already in their natural habitat and by helping nature absorb even more carbon. “Through their critical interactions within the web of life, wild animals help to capture carbon in plants and, ultimately, in soils and sediments,” Matt Collis wrote for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
Last March, one study found that rewilding populations of whales, sharks, marine fish, gray wolves, wildebeest, sea otters, musk oxen, American bison, and African forest elephants could sequester significant amounts of carbon. ”Rewilding animal populations ... is probably among the best nature-based climate solution available to mankind,” two of the study's authors wrote.
Some like it hot, and that includes certain types of mosquitoes, new research has found. Tiger mosquitos, Aedes albopictus, are found around the globe and can spread vector-borne diseases that include dengue, West Nile, and chikungunya. The new study evaluated the species' critical thermal maximum, or the highest temperature the species can tolerate.
Researchers found that mosquito larvae did especially well at higher temperatures, and the mosquitoes had a higher critical thermal maximum when the humidity was high. “The overall trend is for increased heat tolerance with increasing precipitation,” Katie Westby, a scientist at the Tyson Research Center, said. “It could be that wetter climates allow mosquitoes to endure hotter temperatures, as humidity and temperature are known to interact and influence mosquito survival.”
INSPIRATION OF THE MONTH
My inspiration this month comes from the Knitting Nannas, an Australian activist group fighting for climate action. Their tactics are simple: they show up in bright yellow shirts, knitting in hand, and pull up a chair at protest sites that range from politicians' offices, coal seams, rallies, or “anywhere else we please to show a mild-mannered yet stubborn front,” they write. “Our demeanour is mild and concerned, both about the environment, the politicians’ reputation/legacy and the workers’ welfare. Our presence is to be positive, creative and above all, fun.” And they’re getting their knitting done, too – win-win!
If you think these Nannas aren’t tough, think again. After a new Australian law passed that criminalized protesting near train stations and ports, two Knitting Nannas named Helen Kvelde and Dominique Jacobs sued, and ultimately prevailed, with the New South Wales supreme court invalidating part of the law in December. Justice Michael Walton declared parts of the law unconstitutional, writing that it had a “chilling effect on political communication via protests and public assemblies.”
Here’s to the Nannas who are raising their voices to fight for a livable future for generations to come! “Whenever anyone says, ‘There is nothing we can do,’ I think of the Knitting Nannas,” writes Mandy Nolan. “I think of this powerful and politically potent group of older women who hold the frontline of so many impossible protests with a ball of yarn and a cheeky conversation, and not just an ironing board – an iron will! They stand in unity. They know there is work to be done. And they do it.”