Draw­ing on Mother Na­ture to help com­bat cli­mate change

Con­tin­u­ing the work of the late Michael Purves-Smith, oth­ers have pressed on to present Part­ner­ing with Na­ture to Heal the Bio­sphere

The Woolwich Observer - - LIVING HERE - VERON­ICA REINER

STUDY­ING CLI­MATE CHANGE AND ways to com­bat it was a decades-long pas­sion of the late Michael Purves-Smith, and even more so af­ter his re­tire­ment from Wil­frid Lau­rier Univer­sity. Be­fore suc­cumb­ing to can­cer last Jan­uary, he had planned to or­ga­nize an aware­ness event; oth­ers have picked up the man­tle and will present Part­ner­ing with Na­ture to Heal the Bio­sphere next week in Kitch­ener.

“He had been re­search­ing cli­mate change for quite a long time and very im­pressed with the ur­gency of tak­ing ac­tion,” said Elmira en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist Su­san Bryant. “His re­search was mostly in­volved with one of the best ways to slow cli­mate change.”

One of his in­ter­ests was in tech­niques for se­ques­ter­ing the car­bon that has al­ready been re­leased since the in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion, ide­ally with the hope of nat­u­ral means.

“We slow cli­mate change, not through fancy en­gi­neer­ing pro­cesses but im­i­tat­ing the way na­ture does it,” added Bryant. “Be­cause na­ture does it nat­u­rally. So if we can en­hance those pro­cesses by adding fer­til­ity to the soil, plant­ing trees, just in­creas­ing the amount of pho­to­syn­the­sis that hap­pens on the planet, then we’re fur­ther ahead.

“Be­cause we can put all the so­lar pan­els and re­duce our de­pen­dence on fos­sil fuel, but none of that is go­ing to mat­ter if we don’t draw down the ex­ces­sive amount of green­house gasses that we’ve al­ready put out there.”

Un­der that sce­nario, ev­ery­one needs to con­trib­ute smaller changes to re­sult in a size­able over­all shift. Bryant was quick to point out that cli­mate change means more than hu­mid weather – the long-term con­se­quences of cli­mate change are alarm­ing.

“With­out in­ter­ven­tion, it’s just go­ing to get too hot for life,” said Bryant. “So that’s what he and all the cli­mate change ac­tivists are try­ing to get the word out – that this doesn’t just mean bad weather, it means the con­se­quences are dire. So it’s not a pretty mes­sage in this sense, but I think it is in the sense that he and th­ese peo­ple have so­lu­tions. What it takes is the mo­bi­liza­tion to make it hap­pen.”

Long-time Elmira APT En­vi­ron­ment mem­ber Shan­non Purves-Smith said her hus­band pre­dicted the cri­sis decades be­fore it hap­pened and be­gan of­fer­ing so­lu­tions a long time ago.

“He left a ton of in­for­ma­tion. He wrote an in­cred­i­ble Pow­er­Point that just cov­ers ev­ery­thing,” she said of his re­search. “In light of the two things that came out this week; for ex­am­ple, the two cli­mate change re­searchers that won the No­bel Prize in eco­nomics and the other thing about the UN warn­ing that we’re re­ally in deep trou­ble, th­ese are things that my hus­band knew decades ago. He pre­dicted th­ese things in the ’80s or ’90s.”

The free event will fea­ture a va­ri­ety of guest speak­ers in­clud­ing Bryant,

Dr. Paul Voroney of Univer­sity of Guelph School of En­vi­ron­men­tal Sci­ences as well as Jodi Koberin­ski, 2015 Oak Hu­man Rights Fel­low and co-founder of the Dan­ger­ous Ideas Fes­ti­val.

Shan­non Purves-Smith will also be speak­ing to hon­our her hus­band’s work and pas­sion.

“Shan­non and I are go­ing to do a brief pre­sen­ta­tion that sum­ma­rizes Michael’s views and do that in his own words, just to have his pres­ence there with us,” ex­plained Bryant. “That’ll set the scene. Then th­ese ex­perts in th­ese var­i­ous fields that have to do with in­creas­ing pho­to­syn­the­sis will speak.”

“His mes­sage is so im­por­tant,” said Purves Smith. “I just felt that it needs to be said – it re­ally does need to be said, so that’s why I took it on.”

Among the top­ics pre­sented will be cli­mates­mart food, soil, or­ganic mat­ter, de­com­po­si­tion, pop­u­la­tion and the im­por­tance of ed­u­cat­ing women, restor­ing na­ture and restor­ing our­selves, as well as na­ture bonds and trans­form­ing tax­a­tion. There is also a ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion sched­uled near the end.

The event will take place at the Kitch­ener Pub­lic Li­brary the­atre on Oc­to­ber 16 at 6:30 p.m. The event is free, but there is also the op­tion to reg­is­ter on­line at www.EventBrite.ca to re­serve a seat.


Michael Purves-Smith


Shan­non Purves-Smith pushed ahead with the event.

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