A new report published by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reveals that the planet has never been under this level of threat and at the current rate, can no longer sustain humanity. In particular, human activities destroying the world’s land is now threatening civilisation, and global warming is making this risk more severe. Rising temperatures are causing deserts to spread especially across Asia and Africa, the report also indicates.
One of the core conclusions of the landmark report is that soil is being eroded 100 times faster than it is being formed in ploughed areas used for intensive livestock farming. Land is a vital resource that sustains humanity. Without immediate action, further global heating will exacerbate the damage done to forests, land and ice-caps around the world, which will threaten civilisation itself. The spread of deserts, particularly in Asian and African regions, would have deadly consequences.
Inefficient and poor land use is responsible for almost a quarter of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to animal livestock farming, other activities contributing to the destruction of land include deforestation and the overuse of chemical fertilisers.
This special report makes it crystal clear that humanity is at a crossroads: We urgently need to tackle deforestation and the issues surrounding cattle and other livestock farming, both of which contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and land and water pollution. If we are to save “irreversible loss in land ecosystem”, we need to allow soils and forests to regenerate to absorb carbon and cut meat consumption.
These moves would not only play a big role in fighting our climate emergency, but will also bring about other benefits, such as improving human health by bringing about cleaner, less polluted air, and would also help to reduce incidences of nutritional deficiency and obesity. Such action could also lead to declining poverty rates and slow down the loss of wildlife.
In addition to reforestation and reducing meat intake, the IPCC report also states that fossil fuels need to be eliminated. One of the ways to bring about this change is to redirect fossil fuel subsidies to the clean energy sector, and governments and businesses will have to play a big role in this.
“Limited land, an expanding human population, and all wrapped in a suffocating blanket of climate emergency. Earth has never felt smaller, its natural ecosystems never under such direct threat,” said University of Edinburgh Professor Dave Reay, one of the experts involved in the report.
The call for dramatic action is loud and clear. Governments and businesses need to reform our current system to limit temperature changes, cut land usage for animal agriculture and plant more trees. Us as individuals also have to factor in the environmental cost of what is on our plate.
“The key message from the IPCC is urgency: we need to act now to plant new forests, restore our ecosystems, and yes, to eat less meat,” said Caterina Brandmayr from Green Alliance.
Lead image courtesy of Pexels.