Frequently, the international community doesn’t focus on the important role that wilderness and wildlands play in preventing climate change. Yet just in the past few weeks, wilderness and the connection to climate change has been in the news quite a bit. Just two weeks ago, we spotlighted the efforts of indigenous leaders at the World Social Forum in Brazil who issued a global call to save the Amazon, the so-called ‘lungs of the world’. Last week, Australian dramatic wildfires, aggravated by climate change, also released more CO2 emissions than Australia’s industrial sector for the year. At the same time, floods in Argentina were far more devastating due to the drastic deforestation the region has seen in recent years.
Well here’s a bright spot on the horizon when it comes to wilderness, and solving the climate crisis: WILD9: The 9th World Wilderness Congress. From 6 – 13 November 2009 the world’s longest-running public international forum for the environment will convene in the welcoming city of Merida in Mexico’s Yucatan – the land of the Maya. This will be the first time the Congress has ever been held in Latin America.
The wild lands of the world are important to us for so many reasons, not least of which being their beauty, and the inspiration we derive from knowing that outside the bustle of modern life, they exist. But we know too that they are very threatened by our changing climate, and that they also hold the key to solving this crisis. The Wild Foundation, the organizers of the Wild9 Congress, get this too. Just last week their policy team adopted the 350ppm target, stating on their website, “it now seems as though the targets the international community has been aiming for to stop climate change are the wrong ones: to avoid serious climate change related problems we need to prevent global average temperatures from rising more than 1.7 degrees Celsius (not 2 degrees C), and to accomplish that goal we need to stabilize carbon in the atmosphere at 350 parts per million (not 450 ppm).”
To learn more about the Wilderness Congress, and to apply to become a delegate, visit their website at www.wild9.org. We’ll be working with them in the coming months to see how we can work together to get 350 and wilderness conservation on the agenda in Copenhagen.