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Learn the Basics:
The Three Crises

This basic takes about 1 hour to explore.


Roots & Shoots projects tackles the convergence of three major crises: biodiversity loss (animals), environmental inequity (people), and climate change (people). When in doubt, just think A.P.E.

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Biodiversity Loss (Animals)

Biodiversity is often defined as the “variety of all living things.” Our founder Dr. Jane Goodall calls biodiversity “the tapestry of life”. There are millions of ecosystems around the world and every one is a complex, high-functioning web of interacting species. They help our planet breathe, grow, and thrive. But when one thread is pulled out, the tapestry starts unravelling. 


From habitat destruction and overexploitation to pollution and climate change, human activity is rapidly accelerating the pace of biodiversity loss around the world. With dwindling wildlife populations and over a million species at risk, we’re experiencing the first mass extinction since the age of the dinosaurs. This time, humanity is the asteroid.

Biodiversity Loss


How It Converges with Climate Change and Environmental Inequity

Biodiversity loss hurts our ability to fight climate change.


  • Forests absorb a lot of greenhouse gases from our atmosphere. When we cut trees, we lose that ability. Not to mention, the carbon stored in the wood is released back into the atmosphere.

  • The white surfaces of glaciers reflect the sun’s rays and help reduce heating. But climate change is melting those glaciers, transforming white reflective areas into dark sea water. This dark water actually absorbs more solar heat, and accelerates global warming.


Environmental inequity is a huge factor here.


  • As developed countries like Canada source products (like cell phones) from developing countries like Africa, local raw materials are depleted. Pollution, waste and toxicity increase. Habitats and species are destroyed (see our The Forest is Calling campaign for more). 

  • Many of our most marginalized communities, including Indigenous populations, live in rural areas. They may be more reliant on nature for their livelihoods. They’re also affected by activities like mining and logging, making them more vulnerable to biodiversity loss and climate change. 

Environmental Inequity (People)

To consider climate change and biodiversity loss without considering environmental inequity is short-sighted. The simple truth is: it's impossible to implement effective solutions to climate change and biodiversity loss without addressing inequity.


In Canada, many of our most underserved communities, including Indigenous populations, live in rural areas where they may be more reliant on nature for their livelihoods. They’re also affected by activities like mining and logging, making them more vulnerable to biodiversity loss and climate change. 


Indigenous worldviews see humankind as equal to nature, not above it. They take a long-term view of nature, the “7 generations” perspective. A UBC study found that Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) have a 30% less decline in biodiversity than areas managed by non-Indigenous groups.


All of us, from the most privileged to the most silenced, are bound to nature and to each other. And every voice must be part of designing the solutions to the crises we have caused.

Environmental Inequity

How It Converges with Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss

By no fault of their own, marginalized communities are often forced to make decisions that degrade the environment so that they can feed and protect their families. For example, swaths of forests in the Chimpscapes of Africa have been cut down to provide fuel and heat to communities that have no other alternatives. And the bushmeat trade, which annihilates threatened animal populations, is sometimes the only avenue to put food on someone’s table or money in their pockets. When we address inequity among our fellow human beings, we are helping to preserve animals and the environment simultaneously. 


Our community-centred approach addresses this convergence head-on. We prioritize equitable human health and wellness so that everyone can live more sustainable lives in harmony with nature, and our relationship to animals and the environment can be rebalanced.  


Climate Change (Environment)

Forests are burning. Oceans are rising. Climate change is no longer a future threat. You are living in it now, as you read this. 


The main problem is carbon. Deforestation and burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide into our atmosphere, where it remains for up to 1,000 years. This creates a “greenhouse effect” that traps heat radiating from Earth. Most of the carbon dioxide released during the Industrial Revolution is still in the atmosphere today – and it’s only getting worse. 


Studies show we have less than a decade to prevent the global temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees. Anything more would be catastrophic. As a global community, we are not on track to hit that target.

Climate Change


How It Converges with Climate Change and Environmental Inequity

Climate change causes increased ocean acidity and different precipitation patterns.

  • These cause massive changes to habitats for millions of species, leading to biodiversity loss.

  • These species are forced to migrate to other areas, changing their roles within highly-interconnected ecosystems that are sensitive to change. 

Environmental impacts are often caused by those in positions of privilege, but are borne by more vulnerable groups.


  • People who have access to wealth and resources often have a disproportionately large carbon footprint based on their consumption habits. This comes at great environmental cost to marginalized communities in Canada and in other countries.

  • Current and future generations will bear the greatest burdens of climate change, although previous generations have caused it. 

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