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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

IPCC Issues Global Guide to the Usage of Land

The way we divide up and use the land matters very much to climate change, says the IPCC. Image: Thomas Ehrhardt, Pixabay.

J. D. Kaplan

“Governments challenged the IPCC to take the first ever comprehensive look at the whole land-climate system.” ––Hoesung Lee, IPCC Chair

In the July 2019 issue of G.E.T. (“Movement On Decarbonization,” http://www.greenenergytimes.org/back-issues-download/), I said that it is certain that we had better start unwinding carbon if we expect to survive.

There is uncertainty, though, in a few carbon quantities otherwise well fleshed out. That means that a wildcard may give us plenty of time, or it may halt, spilling oceans onto land masses. The persistence of sunken carbon dioxide in certain places around the globe – perhaps a feedback loop has an expiration date – leaves the possibility of total survival on an unknown time scale.

The most salient Joker’s Parcel, if you will, might be the Russian permafrost. This is mentioned in the new report from the IPCC1, which issues guidance on the usage of land. Here, I’d recommend the dry language of a report meant for bureaucrats and policy wonks over major media any day. The argument is made that uncertainty within climate change science should motivate expenditure to manage land more carefully, rather than to pull back and ready the life boats. Who wants to endure paranoia?

In a set of guidelines that include ecologic results, quantities of CO₂, and exploration of socioeconomic outcomes, the choices people make in their usage of land is hashed out.

The IPCC has produced a volume in as much detail on this subject as anyone with money to invest could ever ask for. There are numbers and keen observations regarding the farming or development of land, projects to convert it between those or, say, back to wetlands from a respectable career as the footprint of a shopping mall, and policy that affects land & people anywhere. The Special Report is around 1500 pages and offers all the science and reason that officials, land owners, and investors might use to best manage their land, all reasonable end-games considered.

Special attention is given to food security, as the potential for conflict sprouts up just where humans begin to hold the land higher in value.

Every statement in this report carries a weight rating, of a sort, a stated level of certainty among IPCC contributors. Competing viewpoints aren’t lost, in this way. It also isolates areas of uncertain outcomes – wild cards, up in the air literally but with boundaries to the havoc we fear from them.

The reading is dry and the structure is technical, but the report does a stellar job of explaining why being sustainable ecologically might have an economic benefit. The IPCC also makes clear why local action about the forests and the land may affect regional climate no matter what the CO₂ level is around the globe. Some benefits of advancing carbon-related action right away are presented. Policies reaching for CO₂ reduction can be designed to benefit the poor rather than taxing them, to empower women and minority groups in a population rather than sidelining them, and even to knit a fabric of collaborators in a society that might otherwise be headed for conflict by way of eco-limitations and stress.

A great mass of detail is presented therein, exploring a wide variety of situations a government may confront. It addresses all levels of material wealth and considers the full spectrum of developed states. More than half of the contributors are from developing countries, so it reflects a serious mix of progress around the world. It may also reflect its challenges, but it is at least as dedicated to looking forward and meeting challenges as the best of the actors in the land trust movement in America.

1 The report can be found at www.IPCC.ch.If you’re unfamiliar with the group that produced the report, there is an objective writeup from an outside party at UCSUSA.org.

J. D. Kaplan is a certified remote pilot and a former member of the I.T. crowd. He is a reader in the areas of bioelectromagnetics and cryptocurrency. He lives and works at or above sea level near Boston.

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