Geneva: Humanity faces increasingly painful trade-offs between food security and rising temperatures within decades unless it curbs emissions and stops unsustainable farming and deforestation, a landmark climate assessment said Thursday. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that efforts to limit global warming while feeding a booming population could be wrecked without swift and sweeping changes to how we use the land we live off.
Its report on land use and climate change highlighted the need to protect remaining tropical forests as a bulkhead against future warming. But in a stark warning to those who may hope that vast reforestation and biofuel schemes alone can offset mankind's environmental damage, the report cautioned that these mega-projects could endanger food security, underlining that reducing emissions will be central to averting disaster.
"This is a perfect storm. Limited land, an expanding human population, and all wrapped in a suffocating blanket of climate emergency," said Dave Reay, Professor of Carbon Management at the University of Edinburgh. Land is intimately linked to climate. With its forests, plants and soil it sucks up and stores around a third of all man-made emissions.
Intensive exploitation of these resources also produces huge amounts of planet-warming CO2, methane and nitrous oxide, while agriculture guzzles up 70 per cent of Earth's freshwater supply.