A conversation with Ties van der Hoeven, founder and creative director of The Weather Makers, about restoring the water cycles in the Mediterranean, the effect of water vapour on cooling the planet, our tunnel vision focussed on carbon, and much more.
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This episode is part of the Water Cycles series, supported by The Nest, where we interview the dreamers and doers who are using the latest technology to figure out where to intervene first. They are making or trying to make the investment and return calculations. so what is missing, what is holding us back? Maybe we lack the imagination to back them and try regeneration at scale.
A check in interview with The Weather Makers, an extremely ambitious project focussing on restoring the water cycles in the Mediterranean. They accidentally stumbled upon the perfect place to show that the restoration of water cycles can be done and can bring enormous ecological, social and financial benefits. This is a wide ranging interview with a former dredging professional turned ecosystem restorer and learn what it has to do with fish.
WATER ECOSYSTEMS ARE MUCH MORE INTERESTING TO RESTORE FIRST AS THEIR RECOVERY IS SO MUCH FASTER
According to Ties, Jeff Loudon says: ‘What we need to do is relatively simple, we need to retain moisture and bring the environmental conditions back, and nature will build its own complexity.’
”Where we were a little bit different than the other regreening projects, I guess was that we had this lagoon, and an aquatic ecosystem is way quicker in recovering. So, the good thing about the fact that it’s quicker to recover, it gives you a much earlier result which was fish, solid fish. I could look back in the last 100 years of fish data. I could show it. Fish is going to get there.” – Ties van der Hoeven
”So I started to understand, wait, you can just show the other productivity of the lagoon, so you can show this productivity. So that was the first moment the investor starts coming in. After that I could start talking about carbon credits, but what I already quickly understood is that carbon credits on itself will never fund these projects. But if you start thinking on the water cycle, where the percentage of biomass is much more important than your carbon stored into it, because there are natural systems.” – Ties van der Hoeven
IT’S TIME WE TAKE OUR ROLE AS KEYSTONE SPECIES SERIOUSLY
Ties argues that the geopolitical governance of this world is failing. There is a change happening within society at the moment, and awareness is raising. We now have to start thinking about solutions, and more people are seeing that the only real and quick solution is the restoration of natural systems, and all the other things, can be done later on.
”The Netherlands is really doing something about climate change. What I also saw in the Netherlands is that very rapidly, our system is changing. The last five years, we had droughts which is scary, and now also here in the Netherlands, people start understanding that the weather is changing way more rapidly than even predicted. […] And more and more people are starting to talk about heat stresses to take it out with natural systems and start thinking on, indeed, retaining moisture.” – Ties van der Hoeven
”I see the Netherlands as a brewing pot because we live in with so many people together. We’re one of the Western countries, which is hitting the limits of growth in our country as we speak. Whether it’s nitrogen, whether it’s carbon, whether it’s the availability of fresh water, we’re really hitting our limits and we got to change and I definitely see a change.” – Ties van der Hoeven
BY RESTORING A ‘SMALL’ LAGOON IN THE SINAI, WE CAN INFLUENCE THE WEATHER PATTERNS OF THE WHOLE MEDITERRANEAN.
There are 53 lagoons in the Mediterranean basin, and they all can become much more productive than they are right now.
”Go to the lagoon, call up a dredger, sit down with the local communities, explain to them how the history was, see if they want this and start dredging and start restoring an aquatic ecosystem. And to show to the people that this is always the start of a very quick recovery of the natural system, which can feed the people with food security and social security and improve their livelihoods. With evaporation. And it is always the start of your watershed approach and I would go to the people that would need it the most. Go to Northern Africa. Help people in the dramatic situations they are now there. They still hold lots of indigenous knowledge, which are way closer to natural proper management than we are, and go help and support and work together and collaborate and share as much as possible directly.” – Ties van der Hoeven
”But you know that very, very long ago, the wind, the wind terrain would come from the Levant and that’s exactly what we’re showing here with that cyanide. Yes, we start looking back in the historical facts. We can see that answer. Yes, we can change if we want. I’m not talking about the whole social processes, because we need to fully use the indigenous knowledge, etcetera, but if we want, we can easily regreen. 25% of our planet is a desert and if we restore functional ecosystem with functional watersheds, we’re not living with too many people on this planet. We’re now doing too much stupid stuff with too many people on this planet. We need to, as a paradigm shift, only- you would say- start understanding we’re part of a natural system and together with all of our organic families, the beavers, the fishes, the algaes, the birds we can restore these watersheds and if we do, there’s a beautiful future perspective ahead of us.’‘ – Ties van der Hoeven
OTHER POINTS DISCUSSED
Koen and Ties also talked about:
- The importance of biomass in the water cycle
- The organic family of weather makers
- What is the value of mangrove
- The Weather Makers
- Turning the Desert Green
- The rewilding project turning the desert green with Ties van der Hoeven – Podcast
- Lessons of the Loess Plateau – Video
- How Wolves Change Rivers – YouTube about Yellowstone National Park
- ‘Our biggest challenge? Lack of imagination’: the scientists turning the desert green – Guardian article
- Neal Spackman – Why it is so difficult to get truly regenerative water and ecosystem restoring projects funded
- Alpha Lo – What if water is more important than carbon
- Millán Millán – Farm water at its proper scale
- Water Cycles series
- Walter Jehne, stop talking about carbon emissions and focus on restoring the water cycle
Feedback, comments, suggestions? Reach me via Twitter @KoenvanSeijen, in the comments below or through Get in Touch on this website.
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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.