Thursday, August 22, 2019

70% of All Land Impacted by Human Activity According to New IPCC Report

Click for photo credit.
On August 8th of this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its report, 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. The report has garnered a tremendous amount of attention due to its assertions about the linkages between land use and climate change. However, there is one fundamental piece of the report that I found particularly interesting--it notes that 70% of all non-ice land surfaces are directly impacted by human activity.

I found this number shocking given that much of the planet is covered with inhospitable tundra, desert, or wetlands.

The report goes on to note that 1/4 of the non-ice land surface is engaged with agricultural activities, timber production, or mining. The report further notes that 1/4 of the non-ice land surface is degraded as a result of human activities. The report defines degradation as soil erosion, desertification, and loss of low-lying lands due to climate change. The sad news is that the rate of change is concerning. we are likely to see greater degradation due to these three factors--especially global climate change.

We have about 7.7 billion people on our planet and we are clearly stretching our planet's resources rather thin due to our consumptive habits. We are expected to have a population of 11 billion by the 2080's. Our changing climate combined with our increasingly degraded land surfaces will certainly lead to a variety of challenges for the coming generations.


No comments: