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IPCC Special Report: Our land is running out

11 August 2019 - 9h45

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a special report last Thursday on greenhouse gases (GHGs) in terrestrial ecosystems, including land degradation and food security.

No doubt for the IPCC, the impact of human actions weighs on the scales and depletes our soils! According to the report, about a quarter of the world’s ice-free land is subject to human-induced degradation, soil erosion in agricultural fields is estimated to be between 10 and 20 times (no tillage) at more than 100 times (average tillage) greater than the rate of soil formation. And approximately 23% of total GHG emissions between 2007 and 2016 come from agriculture, forestry and other land uses. Not to mention climatic variations, which also increase soil degradation.

Overproduction, a plague since the pre-industrial period

Since 1961, total food production (cereal crops) has increased by 240% through 2017 due to expansion of acreage and yields. Agriculture, logging and land use activities accounted for about 13% of CO2 emissions, 44% of methane (CH4) and 82% of nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions resulting from human activities in the world between 2007 and 2016, or 23% of total net GHG emissions … What about global warming? Climate change, including increased frequency and intensity of extremes, has had a negative impact on food security and terrestrial ecosystems thus contributing to desertification and land degradation in many regions.

Some ways to improve

In this report, the IPCC does not provide a recommendation, but some indications to solve these issues are addressed, such as sustainable land and forest management, which can prevent and reduce land degradation, maintain land productivity, and sometimes reverse the adverse effects of climate change. This sustainable management can also provide communities with long-term economic benefits and support several sustainable development goals. Despite this approach, the IPCC supports that even with the implementation of sustainable land management, the limits of adaptation may be exceeded in some situations.

Sustainable management, a political affair

This report argues that governments have a role to play because policies across the food system, including those that reduce losses and food wastage and influence food choices, allow for more sustainable management of food use increased food security and low-emission flows. What to ensure a maintenance of the grounds and a durable economy

Daniela Guerra

©Free Photos – Pixabay

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