The United Nations’ top panel of climate scientists is warning that humans are consuming land and water resources at an unprecedented rate, with the climate crisis and biodiversity loss already threatening the food supply of hundreds of millions of people. In a new report out today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that without dramatic action, extreme weather and rising temperatures will turn even more fertile land into desert, shrinking the global food supply even as the world’s population rises to more than 7.5 billion people. This is climate scientist and IPCC co-chair Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
Valérie Masson-Delmotte: “We humans affect more than 70% of ice-free land. A quarter of this land is degraded. The way we produce food and what we eat contributes to the loss of natural ecosystems and declining biodiversity. When land is degraded, it reduces the soil’s ability to take up carbon, and this exacerbates climate change. In turn, climate change exacerbates land degradation in many different ways. Today, 500 million people live in areas that experience desertification.”
The IPCC recommends dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, along with more efficient farming methods and a shift in diets away from dairy and meat — which produce vast amounts of methane and carbon dioxide while consuming large amounts of land.