How do I prevent land deterioration

Land use report: IPCC warns against exploitation of arable land

In its new land use report, the International Climate Council (IPCC) tries to be optimistic. In principle, there is enough usable land on earth to achieve climate and species protection in addition to world food, said Hans-Otto Pörtner from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven at the public presentation of the report. However, according to the report, a lot has to change for this - not only technically, but also politically and culturally.

The authors call once again to eat less meat. Don't just avoid greenhouse gases directly; The areas obtained in this way are needed for afforestation and to obtain usable biomass. The most important thing, however, is that much less carbon dioxide gets into the atmosphere quickly. Then globally sustainable land use would be possible, said Pörtner. This is true, according to a central message of the report, but also the other way around: according to the analysis, agriculture and forestry contribute almost a quarter of human greenhouse gas emissions.

This article is included in Spectrum Compact, Sustainable Nutrition

Unlike the previous IPCC reports, the »Special Report on Climate Change, Desertification, Land Deterioration, Sustainable Land Management, Food Security and Greenhouse Gas Flows in Terrestrial Ecosystems« deals specifically with the land surface of the earth - of which humans use around 70 percent. Not only has the global average temperature on land risen by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, much faster than over the ocean, the direct interactions between climate and human activity can also be seen here.

The drought of recent years in Germany, for example, is related on the one hand to climate change and on the other hand to the fact that the water balance of the landscape has been dramatically changed by sealed surfaces, drained wetlands and intensive agriculture. Globally, such interrelated effects of climate and humans mean that large areas are threatened by desertification or extreme rainfall; Such poorer conditions for arable farming may lead to the food supply becoming less stable - and fluctuating supply means fluctuating states. The clear message of the report: it cannot go on like this.

“It is therefore not only relevant that we use 70 percent of the ice-free land surface, but increasingly also the way in which we do this,” says Julia Pongratz, an expert on land use at LMU Munich. For example, forests could ideally counteract locally negative climate impacts. The report describes these effects in detail and comes to the conclusion, among other things, that the overall effect of climate change on global plant growth is currently positive: the earth is greening, especially in the Arctic.

At the same time, however, there are clear warning signs. Experts recently warned that the effects of climate change threaten large parts of the managed forests in Germany. This is the case with many ecosystems, especially those previously damaged by humans. As the report emphasizes, land use problems are relatively easy to remedy. Forest protection and more sustainable agriculture are not only easier than turning away from fossil fuels, but also immediately bring many positive side effects. All you have to do is act quickly and initiate the necessary changes now, according to the authors. This is what the IPCC has been saying since 1990; At that time the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration was just over 355 ppm. In January 2021 it is 415 ppm.