IPCC Declares a Global Warming Land Use Emergency, But Admits the World is Greening

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t Dr. Willie Soon; Apparently we face an urgent need to reform land use and human diets, even though satellite measurements prove the world is greening.

IPCC climate change report calls for urgent overhaul of food production, land management

By environment reporter Nick Kilvert

And changing the way we farm could improve things for ourselves, as well as for the planet: “Balanced diets featuring plant-based foods such as those based on coarse grains, legumes, fruits and vegetable, nuts and seeds and animal-sourced food produced in resilient, sustainable and low-greenhouse-gas-emission systems present major opportunities for adaptation and mitigation while generating significant co-benefits in terms of human health.

In Australia, where our meat consumption is particularly high on a global average, that means things like switching to low-emissions meat sources, ditching non-essential foods, and sourcing locally grown produce. 

Reducing food waste is also identified as a key area to gain efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of agriculture.

Between 25 and 30 per cent of food is wasted worldwide, including crop waste, transport and store loss and personal waste.

“By 2050, reduced food loss and waste can free several million square kilometres of land,” the authors write.

The report confirms the world has a double-edged sword hanging over its head, according to IPCC vice-chair Mark Howden.

“We ignore the interactions between climate change and the land at our peril.”

Read more: https://ift.tt/2yHvQtg

George Monbiot’s response is even more entertaining, he gave one of his signature wide eyed video interviews: “Beef is like a loaded gun pointed at the living world“.

What the IPCC said of course is a little less apocalyptic, in fact in his video interview Monbiot describes the report as “pathetic and mealy mouthed”, because the scientists didn’t say what he wanted them to say.

Some interesting highlights from the Summary for Policymakers;

Climate Change and Land

An IPCC Special Report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems

Summary for Policymakers

A2.3. Satellite observations15 have shown vegetation greening16 over the last three decades in parts of Asia, Europe, South America, central North America, and southeast Australia. Causes of greening include combinations of an extended growing season, nitrogen deposition, CO2fertilisation17, and land management (high confidence). Vegetation browning18 has been observed in some regions including northern Eurasia, parts of North America, Central Asia and the Congo Basin, largely as a result of water stress (medium confidence). Globally, vegetation greening has occurred over a larger area than vegetation browning (high confidence). {2.2.3, Box 2.3, 2.2.4, 3.2.1, 3.2.2, 4.3.1, 4.3.2, 4.6.2, 5.2.2}

B6.2. Diversification in the food system (e.g., implementation of integrated production systems, broad-based genetic resources, and diets) can reduce risks from climate change (medium confidence). Balanced diets, featuring plant-based foods, such as those based on coarse grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and animal-sourced food produced in resilient, sustainable and low-GHG emission systems, present major opportunities for adaptation and mitigation while generating significant co-benefits in terms of human health (high confidence). By 2050, dietary changes could free several Mkm2 (medium confidence) of land and provide a technical mitigation potential of 0.7 to 8.0 GtCO2e yr-1, relative to business as usual projections (high confidence). Transitions towards low-GHG emission diets may be influenced by local production practices, technical and financial barriers and associated livelihoods and cultural habits (high confidence). {5.3, 5.5.2, 5.5, 5.6}

C1.2. Insecure land tenure affects the ability of people, communities and organisations to make changes to land that can advance adaptation and mitigation (medium confidence). Limited recognition of customary access to land and ownership of land can result in increased vulnerability and decreased adaptive capacity (medium confidence). Land policies (including recognition of customary tenure, community mapping, redistribution, decentralisation, co-management, regulation of rental markets) can provide both security and flexibility response to climate change (medium confidence). {3.6.1, 3.6.2, 5.3, 7.2.4, 7.6.4, Cross-Chapter Box 6 in Chapter 5}

D 3. Rapid reductions in anthropogenic GHG emissions across all sectors following ambitious mitigation pathways reduce negative impacts of climate change on land ecosystems and food systems (medium confidence). Delaying climate mitigation and adaptation responses across sectors would lead to increasingly negative impacts on land and reduce the prospect of sustainable development (medium confidence). {Box SPM.1, Figure SPM.2, 2.5, 2.7, 5.2, 6.2, 6.4, 7.2, 7.3.1, 7.4.7, 7.4.8, 7.5.6; Cross-Chapter Box 9 in Chapter 6, Cross-Chapter Box 10 in Chapter 7}

Read more: https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2019/08/4.-SPM_Approved_Microsite_FINAL.pdf

It seems a little premature to declare a global land use and climate emergency, when satellite measurements suggest the world is greening.

What I find more interesting though , the IPCC admits they only have “medium confidence” that reducing greenhouse gas emissions would mitigate the problems they identified as affecting food supply.

The vague and in my opinion misleading term “medium confidence” may be a gift from the late Stephen Schneider. There is a hilarious climate gate email which suggests the term “medium confidence” arose because climate scientists didn’t want to say “inconclusive” in their reports;

Hello all. I appreciate the improvement in the table from WG 1, particularly the inclusion of symmetrical confidence levels–but please get rid of the ridiculous “inconclusive” for the .34 to .66 subjective probability range. It will convey a completely differnt meaning to lay persons–read decisionmakers–since that probability range represents medium levels of confidence, not rare events. A phrase like “quite possible” is closer to popular lexicon, but inconclusive applies as well to very likely or very unlikely events and is undoubtedly going to be misinterpreted on the outside. I also appreciate the addition of increasing huricane intensities with warming moving out of the catch all less than .66 category it was in the SOD.  


Great Tom, I think we are converging to much clearer meanings across  various cultures here. Please get the inconclusive out! By the way, “possible” still has some logical issues as it is true for very large or very small probabilities in principle, but if you define it clearly it is probably OK–but “quite possible” conveys medium confidence better–but then why not use medium confidence, as the 3 rounds of review over the guidance paper concluded after going through exactly the kinds of disucssions were having now. Thanks, Steve   

Climategate email 0967041809.txt (the paragraphs are reversed from the original reference to show correct chronological order)

Obviously some regions like Australia and Africa could do with a little more water infrastructure, and deforestation can have a substantial impact on rainfall, so planting a few trees, especially in marginal areas, is not always a bad idea.

The “balanced diet” demand stinks of one size fits all-ism. There are substantial regions of the world where herding cattle over low grade pastures is a tradition, because the land quality simply isn’t good enough for a more settled way of life. The land might be improved with a vast investment in infrastructure, but who is going to supply the cash?

Frankly I don’t see a case for radical global land use change and massive government intervention, as the IPCC seems to be advocating. Some of their ideas like security of tenure, better property rights are sensible, but investments in water infrastructure and tree planting are local issues. Determination to address these issues has and will emerge where necessary through normal local and national political processes; no great global political intervention required.

While the world continues to green, suggestions that the world faces a serious ecosystem degradation problem seem a bit of a stretch.

via Watts Up With That?


August 9, 2019 at 08:48PM


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