Recognizing the urgency of our climate crisis
ASU Global Futures Laboratory response to the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land
Land is fundamental to human livelihood because it sustains our global food sources, freshwater supplies, multiple ecosystem services and biological diversity. According to the recently-released Special Report on Climate Change and Land from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), growing human pressure from agriculture, food production, urbanization and deforestation is significantly contributing to climate change. Climate change, in turn, is adding pressure on land resources, creating a vicious cycle.
This report clearly outlines that climate change is increasing global temperatures, with direct and indirect impacts such as water scarcity, soil erosion, vegetation loss, wildfire damage, food supply instabilities and shifts in disease patterns. Our food systems and food security are further threatened as a result of the effects of climate change on the basic functions of the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems that impact soil integrity and heighten the risk of desertification and therefore human health.
The IPCC report demonstrates that the impacts of climate change, including more frequent occurrences of extreme heat on top of steadily rising temperatures with significant death tolls (including the more than 14,000 deaths in France in 2003, or the more than 55,730 deaths in Russia in 2010, both due to excessive heat waves), changes in amount and timing of precipitation, increased frequency and severity of floods (recently demonstrated by the 2019 floods in the Midwestern US), droughts (such as the continuous drying of the Southwest of the US with related higher frequency of wild fires) already affected global food security and led to desertification and land degradation. Peter Schlosser, vice president and vice provost of the Global Futures Laboratory at Arizona State University, says, “it shows that we are pushing against planetary boundaries. In other words, we are extracting more resources than the planet has to give. We must develop and rapidly deploy response options for proactive planetary management to maintain habitability and improve human well-being.”