The Digital Conversationalist

Nature regeneration

#183 Weekend reads – historical genocide could unlock solution to global cooling

An article appeared in CNN this week titled: European slaughter of Native Americans changed the climate, study says. This article is presenting research from University College London, which said the European colonizers killed so many Native Americans it changed the global climate.

Before this study, scientists had argued the temperature change in the 1600s (which is often referred to as the ‘Little Ice Age’) was caused only by natural forces. However, the scientists have now combined archaeological evidence, historical data and analysis of carbon found in Antarctic ice, proving this event anomaly was directly caused by the Europeans’ arrival in the Americas.

To provide some historical context from the article: European settlers killed 56 million indigenous people over about 100 years in South, Central and North America. Because of this mass genocide, it resulted in large swaths of farmland being abandoned and naturally reforested. The increase in trees and vegetation (which was equivalent to an area the size of France) resulted in a massive decrease in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, with carbon levels changing enough to cool the Earth by 1610. Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492.

This is a TERRIBLE story of genocide, and we’re still living with the impacts of it today, but I want to focus on another side not discussed in this article, which is the lesson we can take on board and a possible solution.

When I listen to people who believe we’ve gone too far and can’t do anything to change our trajectory, this research is clear evidence that if we invest in massive regeneration of nature world-wide, we could draw down emissions and potentially cool the climate.

Of course, back in the 1600s we hadn’t entered the fossil fuel era, and when we look around the world, not only are we continuing to increase our emissions, but we are also not doing anything to restore nature at the scale required. However, if we can get global attention on the critical need to do this – and it’s not just planting trees, but ecosystem restoration, which includes ALL life within each ecosystem – well, we might have a chance.

At this point in the story of climate escalation – looking at the heat extremes everywhere on the planet – don’t you think it’s worth taking a chance? Who knows, we might succeed AND have a nicer world to enjoy? But we need to come together and start moving, and it’s time for everything everywhere all at once. Can you help me spread the word?

Some other big stories worth our attention

Remember how I discussed the lack of respect from the West to the rest of the world in the Weekend Reads last week? Well here’s a classic example, which has been responded to elegantly by Singapore’s Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam.

This week, we heard Scotland has stepped back from it’s commitment to reduce emissions massively by 2030, which of course, is incredibly disappointing. But here’s my take – politicians will never do what’s necessary if they don’t think we’ll vote for them, and we won’t vote for politicians committed to climate action unless we are willing to accept the pain of transformation. If we aren’t willing to suffer the lesser pain now, we must accept much deeper pain down the track, so the choice is ours to make, and we need the courage to do it.

Our job is to help everyone understand this and the important point is we understand up-front what it is going to mean for us (the actions we need to take, and what that means to our daily lives), and business as usual isn’t part of the deal.

How can we prepare? How can we help everyone see this is the required path? And how do we convince people not to vote for leaders who are telling us they can solve the crisis, especially if they are denying the crisis exists in the first place?

No strong man or strong woman is coming to save us, and any who are promising it will fail miserably, and that isn’t good news for any of us. We face a big and complicated challenge, and we all need to understand it and get to work.

Some other worthwhile reads. Enjoy your Fast Food? Well not only is it unhealthy and shocking for the environment, but you are ingesting serious poisons when you eat it.

Across to China, where its overextraction of ground water, sea level rise, and the weight of its mega cities mean millions are at risk as its cities start to sink.

Have you heard of Sulfuryl fluoride? It’s estimated to be up to 7,500 times more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of greenhouse-gas potential, and its flowing out into the atmosphere from California. Have a read to understand how it’s being used.

The heat is on all around the world, and here in Asia it’s intense. But it’s much worse in Africa, where hundreds, maybe thousands, are dying of extreme heat. When the grid goes down in extreme heat events, survival becomes very challenging.

Novel entities are a massive issue, and finally more and more research is coming out on impacts. A few examples this week:

  1. Microplastics can be absorbed through the skin so maybe those synthetic exercise clothes aren’t the best idea after-all
  2. Exposure to microplastics aggravates gallstone formation – that doesn’t sound like a lot of fun
  3. PFAS or forever chemicals are raining down on us in ocean spray
  4. The plastics industry heats the world four times as much as air travel – a gift that keeps on giving

The banks are finally getting the message on the cost of climate change – really, just now?

Oh and if you haven’t been paying attention, the resistance in Myanmar is having incredible success, raising the possibility that the military junta could be at risk of collapse. They are doing this without support and the young people are fighting hard.

Favourite cartoon this week

Friends content and mine

I shared my latest We Need a New Middle-Class Dream video, this time focused on the technology industry and e-waste. Please pay attention to the energy needs of AI and how exponential it is!

We also need peace, we can’t afford war, not now. It will send us over the cliff edge.

Plenty more to read, listen to or watch, so do click through to the reads at the image below, and a reminder, this platform ( means the articles go back weeks, so have a scan and read/watch/listen to whatever jumps out at you.

Weekend reads, the polycrisis

Let me know what caught your attention? Or share with me what has your attention now? There’s a lot going on, which means none of us can cover everything. Besides, it’s always great to get feedback so I know I’m delivering something of value.



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