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IPCC Special Report on Land

Thread for discussions of the new special report. [Boosting a comment from alan2102].

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


Land degradation accelerates global climate change. Al Jazeera English
Published on Aug 8, 2019

New UN report highlights vicious cycle of climate change, land degradation. CNA
Published on Aug 8, 2019

New IPCC Report Warns of Vicious Cycle Between Soil Degradation and Climate Change. The Real News Network
Published on Aug 8, 2019

75 Responses to “IPCC Special Report on Land”

  1. 51
    Killian says:

    Re #46 Barton Paul Levenson said a 42: “We’re looking at the collapse of the world’s agricultural systems”. Many others have made similar remarks, including people on this (RC) forum in past years.

    What is the basis for such an outlook? Is there any evidence for it? Not that I’ve seen

    Nah. No crops ruined or their production decreased due to climate-related extreme weather. Nope. There’s no massive Mississippi flood… again… Three quarters of Bangladesh wasn’t flooded a few years aback. Russia didn’t have a big hit to their wheat production not that long ago. Various coastal farming zones are not going under the sea already or in the future. Ocean stocks haven’t fallen to a small fraction of 50 years ago, let alone 300. There is no bugpocalypse, that’s skyrockety nonsense. There is zero evidence of military conflicts being in part or in whole engendered by etreme weather attributed in part to climate… right?

    But you see nothing…

    and I’ve now read quite a bit. True that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but still, a prediction of imminent doom (outside a religious context; “armageddon”) ought to be accompanied by at least some empirical support.

    Why? How freaking long do you think we can have compounding disasters occurring at greater frequencies and magnitudes and not have it affect the prices and availability of food? Everything about climate change is accelerating, but you, the so-called physicist can’t see any dangers in exponential changes?

    You don’t need a goddamned study to understand this risk, just willingness to get your head out of a research paper once in a damned while and the ability to understand scientific papers are *not* the only way of figuring isht out.

  2. 52
    Matthew R Marler says:

    49, Kevin McKinney: No, because ECS (‘Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity’) is defined on an instantaneous doubling of CO2. We still haven’t reached that doubling, as 20 years into the 21st century the increase in CO2 stands a little over 45%. And moreover, the lag time to “equilibrium”–which we will never reach in reality, anyway–is, AFAIK, not well constrained.

    I agree, BUT

    I was responding to the claim that climate sensitivity to a doubling could be 5C.

  3. 53

    MRM, #52–

    I was responding to the claim that climate sensitivity to a doubling could be 5C.

    Um, yeah, but that was clear. It seemed to me that the points made in my #49 were responsive in that they explained why a climate sensitivity of 5C would not, in fact, imply 3C warming for the 20th century record. Still seems that way to me.

  4. 54
    Al Bundy says:

    Killian: How freaking long do you think we can have compounding disasters occurring at greater frequencies and magnitudes and not have it affect the prices and availability of food?

    AB: Yeah, and don’t forget that both population and meat consumption are rising. And that salt water intrusion is poised to poison lots of rich delta land. However, methinks that BPL’s point is that “collapse” is too strong a word. Yep, lots of irrelevant people will go hungry and either die or have their kids’ IQ nuked but that would only be a catastrophe if they insist on not dying in place.

    I wonder when we’ll see the first use of machine guns to protect law-abiding folks from criminal alien invasion.

  5. 55

    Collapse is not too strong a word. I expect global warming to collapse human agriculture and therefore human civilization if not enough is done about it.

  6. 56
    Killian says:

    Re #53 Kevin McKinney said MRM, #52–

    I was responding to the claim that climate sensitivity to a doubling could be 5C.

    Um, yeah, but that was clear. It seemed to me that the points made in my #49 were responsive in that they explained why a climate sensitivity of 5C would not, in fact, imply 3C warming for the 20th century record. Still seems that way to me.

    Just math.

    We currently sit at @ 47% of preindustrial (412.5/280=1.47). We will certainly go higher with 30 more years, minimum, of increasing ppm. 280 x 0.6 = 448ppm. 5C x 0.6 = 3C. I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance we don’t hit at least 448 by 2050 without simplification, leaving 50 years for equilibrium to set in, which is more than enough time. And this is just ECS and not the far more dangerous forms of sensitivity.

    Rather, there’s a very good chance we hit 3C.

  7. 57

    #56, Killian–

    Yes, we are certainly at severe risk of hitting 3C by 2100.

    However, that wouldn’t be part of “the 20th century record,” which is what we were talking about.

  8. 58
    Non-Scientist says:

    Could it be that nature has compensating mechanisms?
    1. Land gets ‘degraded’ – that’s our term – to a condition less amenable to our uses. The land itself doesn’t care, it ain’t going anywhere.
    2. Food gets more expensive, and eventually the quantity peaks, perhaps diminishes.
    3. Humans have fewer children.*
    4. Warming continues for another century or so, amplifying #2.
    5. #3 continues, as disruption and the usual human response to it spreads (kill infidels, take their land, refuse to change previous habits)
    6. Human population diminishes and continues doing so until balance is restored. This may take a few centuries.

    Earth doesn’t care. It’s a spinning rock, not your mom.

    *Except for those receiving 1st world government benefits. Their food is free, and the recipients have all day to riot if they are not provided for.

  9. 59
    Killian says:

    Re #57 Kevin McKinney said 20th

    What a careful reader I am.

    8/

  10. 60

    #58, NS–

    There may be something to your cycle. Yet I have a couple of qualms, on different levels, about what you wrote.

    More nit-picky and less central first:

    Humans have fewer children. Except for those receiving 1st world government benefits. Their food is free, and the recipients have all day to riot if they are not provided for.

    I think you’re laboring under a misconception here. Most “benefits” are pretty circumscribed, especially in the US, so people don’t mostly feel (in my experience) that they have “all day to riot”. In fact, most of them scramble pretty hard just to get by. There are many different scenarios, but let me cite just one example from my personal acquaintance. It concerns a friend–now deceased–who had serious mental issues, combining bipolar mood disturbances with psychotic delusion.

    You may wonder how someone matching that description could possibly be a ‘friend’ to anyone. But he was funny, charming, highly ethical, and talented. He also held to his pharmacological regimen with admirable self-discipline–even when a depressive episode kicked in. (These, by the way, were highly ‘visible’ events–it took just one look to see that something was badly wrong.) I think of him as someone whom life dealt really crappy cards, but who nevertheless played those cards pretty well.

    He was, however, trapped in a cycle of dependency based on “first world benefits”. Specifically, he *needed* those anti-psychotics if he was to function. And even with them, he wasn’t able to handle stress well enough for many employment situations. The consequence of that was that he *had* to be on Medicaid; there was simply no other way to access the medicine he relied on. And that meant that he couldn’t, in practical terms, work, because if he did, he’d likely be disqualified from that Medicaid, and then he’d lose his job anyway because he’d have another psychotic episode sooner or later.

    What he really wanted was a job that would enable him to support himself. Then, he could not only have the satisfaction that goes with that, he could allow himself the luxury of dreaming about real romantic relationships, and maybe even a proper marriage someday.

    And the kicker to all of that was what he received from Medicaid: less than $500 per month. He found ways to maintain his vehicle and live on that, albeit precariously, and not, over the longer term, sustainably. But it sure wasn’t a life of leisure or comfort; and the last thing you’d ever have caught him doing was rioting. Far too risky to the fragile equilibrium he was always riding in his life!

    Second, and more generally:

    While your cycle seems pretty conceptually valid, in the sense that the events might well happen as described, I think it’s drawn too narrowly.

    Specifically, you omit any consideration of the value that that “degraded land” might have for any species other than the (one increasingly feels) appropriately-named h. sap. In reality, the land–and lakes and sea–supports numerous species of flora and fauna which interact to produce the emergent phenomena called “ecosystems”. As the land (and lakes and sea) degrade, vulnerable species are driven to extinction. Without them, the systems degrade, and as they do, biological efficiency decreases. Less energy is captured from the sun and converted into biologically useful chemicals. The ability of the the degraded system to support life of any sort is decreased, perhaps quite drastically.

    IMO, that’s an immoral outcome, and it’s unquestionably a stupid one if the process(es) initiating it were, as you posited, human in origin. Because at the end of the day, human life is just another sort of biological life. It is emphatically NOT independent of functioning ecosystems–or at least, not for long.

    Which would be significant in the present context because it would underline that the harms done as part of your proposed cycle would possibly be quite a bit more persistent than you’re thinking–and hence arguably more ‘serious’.

    (For example, the Permian extinction is thought to have required–IIRC–around 5 million years for ecological recovery. That’s roughly 20 times longer than the existence of anatomically modern humans, and something more like 400 times the length of time that what we call “civilization” has existed.)

  11. 61
    Al Bundy says:

    This is off topic
    Kevin M: Most “benefits” are pretty circumscribed, especially in the US, so people don’t mostly feel (in my experience) that they have “all day to riot”.

    AB: Yeah. In the USA the vast majority of medical and psychiatric help subhumans get is not related to health and psychiatry. It’s all about feeding the qualifying machine, a machine that is best described as a Damocles sword. Benefits are split into various fragments and need to be requalified for every six months. If you have an episode during the qualifying period you are tossed out. And, of course, the stress that the constant qualifying induces is a grand way to ensure that the beneficiary has an episode.

    Seriously. 90+% of the time spent by professionals trying to help is spent fighting the system and beneficiaries live in desperation and fear. You may think that it’s all roses and ease but you probably have never realized that you don’t have the utility bill and the proper proof of income you MUST have in order to see a physician. You probably never faced eviction because a form was late or lost. Yeah, dude, it’s all Easy Street, as in easy to get tossed out on the street.

    What I find amazing is that the very folks who pretend to follow Jesus are ever so adamant that those who already suffer must be abused.

  12. 62

    #61, AB–

    What I find amazing is that the very folks who pretend to follow Jesus are ever so adamant that those who already suffer must be abused.

    I agree, if “pretend” is sufficiently emphasized. For the real deal, Scriptural passages such as this one are still remembered and acted upon:

    https://www.biblehub.com/matthew/25-44.htm

    For the pretenders, though, the “subhuman” status of sufferers, which you allude to, must be carefully maintained.* It’s a necessary brick in the wall.

    *(I actually heard a young man of my acquaintance use, in connection with the incarcerated, the phrase “take out the trash.” I like to think he was more thoughtless than malicious, but either way the dehumanization could hardly be any more stark.)

  13. 63
    george says:

    With the level of fear, panic and hoplessness in the comments. I’m not trolling when i say that I hope you all have made peace with your god and learned to accept death as well as more importantly found ways to expire peacefuly. Because i have.

    Im not willing to let my self live long enough to see everything go to shit

  14. 64
    Ray Ladbury says:

    AB and KM,

    1) Prosperity gospel is clearly a heresy.

    2) The motivation of the prosperity gospellers is more psychological than religious. Blaming misfortune on the sufferers allows them to maintain an illusion of control–that somehow their own “virtue” and the power of their Sky Daddy will protect them.

    The biblical answer is to stone them to death, which, frankly, I’d be fine with, although my own atheist morality would not allow me to participate or even advocate for said fate.

    The real answer is that they need to understand how their own limited primate brains work. They won’t get that on Faux News.

  15. 65

    #63, george–

    I’m not panicking. I’m fighting.

  16. 66

    Ray, please don’t use the “Sky Daddy” rhetoric. It’s offensive to theists in general.

  17. 67
    Al Bundy says:

    On Sky Daddy:
    BPL, I, for one, don’t include you in the “pretend to follow Jesus” category.

    This reminds me of what might be the most offensive joke I’ve coined:

    People like you are the reason some folks call (insert ethnic/political/social/whatever group) (insert slur).

    You are right. Our house is on fire. Fighting each other based on various binary definitions is a grand way to ensure the worst possible outcome.

    Lincoln said it well with “A house devided cannot stand”. Of course, that was before the GOP all became (insert slur).

    See? The problem is that slurring is ever so fun.

  18. 68
    Mal Adapted says:

    BPL:

    Ray, please don’t use the “Sky Daddy” rhetoric. It’s offensive to theists in general.

    Ramen, Brother.

    Seriously, BPL, I hope you’re not expecting your religion to be safe from offense here, among any number of atheists. My own observations support the mediocrity principle as a personal credo. In my irredeemably mediocre opinion, the notion of an imaginary omnipresent paternal deity is not so much offensive as merely risible.

  19. 69

    MA 68: the notion of an imaginary omnipresent paternal deity is not so much offensive as merely risible.

    BPL: Yes, the notion of God being imaginary is risible, I agree.

  20. 70
    Al Bundy says:

    Mal: Ramen, brother

    AB: Maybe I’m over-grocking this but yeah. There ain’t any logical reason for ‘faith’. Seriously? You’re going to go with 2000+ year old thoughts recorded more than 50 years after the fact? Uh, have you ever played the children’s game “telephone”?
    Fifty plus years of that will NOT result in infaliability. Kind of a DUH thing, eh BPL?

  21. 71
    Ray Ladbury says:

    BPL,
    No offense intended. Apologize if any given.

    Mal and Al,
    Divise et impera dates back even before the Roman Empire. Let’s not help out our enemies.

    Although I am an atheist, I am willing to accept that others may come to a different conclusion without being any more irrational than I am. And given the record of the atheist community (gamergate, glibertarians and other right-wing nutjobs), I identify more with people of faith who act in good faith than I do with, say, Ayn Rand.

    I reserve my criticism for the magical thinking of the Cornwall Alliance or the prosperity gospel types (who ought to be considered heretics by anyone who has ever cracked open the New Testament).

  22. 72

    AB 70: You’re going to go with 2000+ year old thoughts recorded more than 50 years after the fact?

    BPL: Truth doesn’t go out of date. And your dates for the composition of the gospels are Higher Criticism dates which are no longer part of the consensus in textual criticism, but survive on the internet.

  23. 73
    Al Bundy says:

    BPL,
    To take a point and deliberately invert it is surely not something that a REAL follower of Jesus would do.

    You just went way down in my opionmeter.

    Seriously, tell the truth and argue with techniques Jesus would approve of.

  24. 74
    Al Bundy says:

    BPL,
    Again, pretending that someone you strenuously disagree with agrees with you is a putrid technique that Jesus would abhor. So I wonder why it’s your go-to argumental style?

  25. 75

    AB,

    It’s hard to respond to your criticism when you don’t make it clear what the hell you’re talking about.

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