Center Spread: “Without Nature’s Help, We Will Not Thrive or Even Survive,” Says New U.N. Report

Students from El Puente march in the 2014 NYC Climate Rally. Photo: Rachael Bongiorno

By Garyelis Lopez, age 14, and IndyKids staff

Earth is gradually becoming an unlivable planet. The United Nations released a report on February 18 calling for an urgent response to tackle the climate crisis, biodiversity loss and pollution that threaten our planet. In order to slow down or reverse this damage, we must make dramatic changes to our societies, economies and daily lives.

The report recommends taxing resources that damage nature, ending fossil fuel use and changing how people travel, fish, farm and eat. These changes will require increasing renewable energy sources, developing sustainable food systems and embracing nature-based solutions. This year “is a make-it or break-it year indeed, because the risk of things becoming irreversible is gaining ground every year,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said in the report. 

In his first week in office, President Joe Biden put forward a number of executive orders targeting climate change. Achieving the goal of making the United States carbon neutral by 2050, steering America’s economy away from fossil fuels to one that harnesses nature’s energy and preserves our natural world, will require many changes designed to tackle costly climate disasters, like wildfires, floods and droughts, that are becoming more frequent.

One big change we will likely see in the next few years is to our transportation system. According to the Associated Press (AP), General Motors, one of the world’s largest vehicle manufacturers, announced that it aims to produce all-electric, light-duty vehicles only and to stop all sales of gas cars by 2035. Similarly, yellow school buses are notoriously dirty, with 95% of the fleet running on diesel, will play a big role in these changes. According to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, the new electric bus fleet is almost “ready to roll.”

Republicans and those with fossil fuel interests objected to Biden’s executive orders, calling them job-killers, according to AP. Fossil fuels are a huge source of income for many communities around the country, thus this transition to renewable energy has long been under dispute. But a Brookings Institute analysis of “a geographic database of renewable energy generation potential” suggests that many fossil fuel hubs that already exist also have the potential to be ideal sites for renewable energy production. 

Redirecting investments to renewable energy production in these areas could reduce job losses and climate obstructionism in the communities likely to be impacted the most by these vital changes.


Biodiversity: Refers to the variety of life
Climate obstructionism: Acts which block or hinder climate positive actions

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