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Sila: Clue in to Climate Change.
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Sila: Clue in to Climate Change.
Introduction. Adventure. Awareness, What Now? Quiz.

Overcoming Climate Change Through Grassroots Actions


Ryan: This sure doesn't look like the Arctic!

Inukshuk: It all depends.

Morgan: On what?

Inukshuk: On exactly when you are visiting. If you had been in the high arctic 45 million years ago, you would not have experienced a cold polar desert, as it is today, but a climate able to support lush tropical forests and swamps. You might even have encountered giant turtles, nocturnal lemurs, even alligators. You see, climate change has been happening for a very long time.

Pictures of Morgan, Ryan and Inukshuk.

1)A picture of a forest in Paraguay.

Morgan: Cool! Let's go back then. I'd like to see my home turf covered in palm trees and crawling with alligators.

Inukshuk: Hmmm. Testing my magic are you? I'll consider your request for some other field trip. We have arrived in Paraguay, a hot, steamy country in the heart of South America. This is a prime example of its rich tropical rainforest which, I regret to inform you, is dwindling fast.

Ryan: I keep hearing about that. Why can't people leave the tropical rainforests alone? Aren't they kind of like the lungs of the planet?

Inukshuk: All forests breathe, exhaling oxygen and inhaling carbon dioxide, one of the most notorious greenhouse gases that contributes to climate change. But no forest on earth breathes so deep and gives so much as the ones before us. When people cut and burn these forests, all that carbon locked in the trees is released back to the atmosphere. The impact of deforestation here may have climate change impacts that reach far beyond South America.

2) A picture of a clear cut forest.

Morgan: Including the Arctic?

Inukshuk: Including the Arctic. It's a small planet friend. Forest cutting here could affect how much rain you get in summer or the frequency of your winter blizzards.

Morgan: We get enough blizzards as it is thank you!

Inukshuk: And that's not all. When these forests fall to the axe or to fire, the number of plant, bird and animal species plummets. Whole ecosystems disappear. So, you ask, why do they do it?

Ryan: Seems crazy to me.

Inukshuk: The answer is simple. They need to clear land for food - corn, soybeans, wheat, cassava, fruits, and vegetables. They need to make a living by growing cotton, sugarcane, raising cattle, pigs and chickens. They need to cut trees for timber or make charcoal for energy. Many people in developing countries like Paraguay depend on the land to meet their daily needs.

3) A picture of men mapping their resources.

Morgan: Same story in the Arctic. The land is everything to us.

Ryan:But you don't have to wreck it to live off it.

Inukshuk: Neither do these people.

Ryan: But what choice do they have? They have to feed their families! They have to make a living!

Inukshuk: That's just the trick - helping people find other choices. Cutting, slashing and burning the forest is not the only way to live. Many land-based communities in Paraguay are finding ways to protect their forests and fight climate change while still meeting their needs for food, energy and money.

Morgan: I thought you said the forest had to be cleared for these people to survive.

4) A picture of a Yerba Mate farm.

Inukshuk: Not at all. There are other ways.

Morgan: Like what?

Inukshuk: These people are exploring ways to live in harmony with land - sustainably, if you like - just like your people have for generations. For instance, look carefully at this forest.

Ryan: Looks pretty healthy to me.

Inukshuk: You're looking at a farm.

Ryan: A tree farm?

Inukshuk: A Yerba mate farm.

Ryan: Huh?

Inukshuk: Yerba mate. See those bright green shrubs? Their leaves are used to make a traditional tea that refreshes the taste buds, combats fatigue, cleanses the blood, strengthens the immune system, reduces stress and invigorates the mind. In Spanish they say, Te levanta el espiritu - It lifts your spirit. Yerba mate is said to be a gift from the gods.

Morgan: Sounds like some kind of wonder drink!

5) A picture of Yerba Mate Teas.
6) A picture of the world.

Inukshuk: Many south Americans would agree with you. It's even catching on in places like the United States, Canada and Europe.Yerba mate likes to grow in the shade beneath the trees. Grow valuable crops while saving the trees. It's what is called agro-forestry - a truly "win-win" situation. The farmers win. The forest wins. And with a healthy rainforest, less carbon is released so the global climate wins too.

Ryan: I guess that makes us all winners.

Morgan: So... the more people that drink that Yerba stuff, the fewer blizzards we'll get?

Inukshuk: That might be stretching it a bit but, as you know...

Ryan and Morgan: We know! It's a small planet!

Image Sources:

  1. Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
  2. Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
  3. Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
  4. Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
  5. Composite of advertisments
  6. Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)


Last Update: 2006-08-09    © nature.ca    Important Notices
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