Nature and Climate Change
In Minnesota, where climate change is becoming evident through our warming winters and more intense rainstorms, we have a golden opportunity to lead on climate change. And we can do it with technology that already exists and can be deployed right now: nature.
Through simple actions like planting cover crops, changing the way we manage forests and installing community rain gardens, Minnesotans can make a big impact for people and nature.
In order to meet the pace and scale that effectively tackling climate change requires, we need everyone to pitch in. The good news is that we already have the blueprint—developed by Mother Nature herself!
Our Climate Action Toolkit
Some of our biggest opportunities to make a difference in Minnesota lie in our forests. Avoided forest conversion, tree planting and improved forest management are all practices that demonstrate how trees can help us fight climate change.
As heavy rain events become more common, flooding and stormwater management are increasingly important issues. Tactics like rain gardens and retention ponds are essential tools to help Minnesota tackle water management in the climate fight.
One of our biggest untapped opportunities likely lies beneath the surface. Minnesota’s farms can lead the way with soil health practices that improve yields, clean the water and capture carbon from the air.
Nature is a Solution
As we seek to tackle our biggest environmental challenges, we would be wise to remember that nature is not just a victim of climate change—she’s also part of the solution! In addition to providing a powerful way to capture carbon, investing in nature can help us protect Minnesota’s fish and wildlife, and safeguard our communities as we brace for climate impacts.
A Solution With Multiple Benefits
Investing in nature’s potential is essential for navigating our way out of the climate crisis. It also comes with some other compelling benefits.
Here are just a few:
In addition to capturing and storing carbon dioxide, trees and other plants also filter particulate matter and other pollutants out of the air that would otherwise put vulnerable communities in harm’s way.
Increasing plant cover on our farms and other working lands will be key to both carbon capture and protecting Minnesota’s waters. By preventing erosion and providing natural filtration, we can keep our waters safe for drinking, recreation and wildlife.
As severe weather events become more commonplace in our state, so too does property damage as well as impacts on human health. Urban tree planting, retention ponds and rain gardens can not only beautify urban spaces but also make them more habitable in the face of climate change.
Quality of Life
Of all the wonderful things nature does for us, the most notable benefit might also be the most intangible. Between the benefits listed above and the improved psychological outcomes of being around nature, we have plenty of reasons to invest more in nature’s potential. Put plainly, nature makes our lives better.
Take a page from these Minnesotans who are already demonstrating nature’s power to tackle the big issues of our time:
The story of forestry in Minnesota is, in many respects, the story of the white spruce. The story can be told and understood through the history of UPM Blandin.
UPM Blandin, Minnesota’s largest industrial forest owner has been in the land management business in Minnesota for more than 100 years. Sawyer Scherer, their forest ecologist says UPM initially took the same approach as a lot of old-school paper mills: buy land, cut trees, sell products made from those trees. Today, the old model is considered outdated, and Blandin has shifted to what they call Smart Forestry.
Diversified forests mitigate risks associated with climate change. A company overly invested in one kind of tree is vulnerable to diseases that can ravage a forest and the company that owns it.
The number of reforestable acres across Minnesota.
Average annual precipitation increase in the past 100 years.
How many metric tons of CO2 we can draw down with nature.
Let’s Invest in Nature’s Potential
Despite all that we know about the power of nature to help us both mitigate and adapt to climate change; we still are not employing nature at the scale and pace needed to meet our climate goals. We know that reducing emissions alone will not get us to where we need to be. We must also begin the work of sequestering carbon from our atmosphere and storing it—in forests, on farms and within our soils.
As we tackle climate change in our corner of the world, we must look at more of our most promising solutions if we are to meet the task at hand—including nature! According to scientific research, nature has the power to contribute 30% of the global solution to climate change. We already have the tools we need to get started, now we need them to be deployed rapidly and at scale.
We Need All Hands on Deck
All hands as in…every last one of us. Tackling climate change will not be a small or easy feat, but many hands will make the lift a little lighter. And we all have something to contribute to the climate fight!
Ways You Can Help
Have a Connected Conversation
Even though more than seven in 10 Americans believe climate change is happening and six in 10 are worried about it, two-thirds of Americans rarely, if ever, talk about climate change with the people they care about. Let’s Talk Climate.
Pledge to Speak Up
In order to preserve our lands, waters and our ways of life in Minnesota, we must be willing to speak up for nature. Join us! Speak Up for Nature.
Share Our Report
Our recent report on nature and climate offers an in-depth look at Minnesota’s multiple pathways to climate resilience. Read up on nature’s potential in our state and share with your nature-loving friends! Download and Share.