I am really wondering if people are really concerned about this planet and what is happening to it. We started EESEEMR, a climate change impact consulting company last December. We have proposals submitted awaiting positive or negative response from the funding agencies. But what strikes me is the apparent lack of commitment to doing something about climate change that is apparent. It has nothing to do with the people at these agencies, but it is apparent in the lack of money being allocated to environmental rescue projects. Why do I say this?
I am not sure how many of you saw the report on climate change and human activity and their impact upon agricultural and natural landscape that came out last Wednesday. It was issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. https://www.ipcc.ch/ The report on Climate Change and Landwas more than sobering, it clearly revealed how much damage has been done to this planet and what will happen if we do nothing.The Summary for Policymakers has four parts: A) People, land and climate in a warming world; B) Adaptation and mitigation response options; C) Enabling response options; and D) Action in the near-term. I will quote just a few gems from their first section Summary for Policymakers.
A1. Land provides the principal basis for human livelihoods and well-being including the supply of food, freshwater and multiple other ecosystem services, as well as biodiversity. Human use directly affects more than 70% (likely 69-76%) of the global, ice- free land surface.Land also plays an important role in the climate system.
A1.5. About a quarter of the Earth’s ice-free land area is subject to human-induced degradation. Soil erosion from agricultural fields is estimated to be currently 10 to 20 times (no tillage) to more than 100 times (conventional tillage) higher than the soil formation rate.Climate change exacerbates land degradation, particularly in low-lying coastal areas, river deltas, drylands and in permafrost areas.Over the period 1961-2013, the annual area of drylands in drought has increased, on average by slightly more than 1% per year, with large inter-annual variability. In 2015, about 500 (380-620) million people lived within areas which experienced desertification between the 1980s and 2000s. The highest numbers of people affected are in South and East Asia, the circum Sahara region including North Africa, and the Middle East including the Arabian peninsula. Other dryland regions have also experienced desertification.People living in already degraded or desertified areas are increasingly negatively affected by climate change.
A 2. Since the pre-industrial period, the land surface air temperature has risen nearly twice as much as the global average temperature. Climate change, including increases in frequency and intensity of extremes, has adversely impacted food security and terrestrial ecosystems as well as contributed to desertification and land degradation in many regions.
A2.2. Warming has resulted in an increased frequency, intensity and duration of heat- related events, including heat waves in most land regions. Frequency and intensity of droughts has increased in some regions (including the Mediterranean, west Asia, many parts of South America, much of Africa, and north-eastern Asia) and there has been an increase in the intensity of heavy precipitation events at a global scale.
A2.4. The frequency and intensity of dust storms have increased over the last few decades due to land use and land cover changes and climate-related factors in many dryland areas resulting in increasing negative impacts on human health, in regions such as the Arabian Peninsula and broader Middle East, Central Asia.
A2.5. In some dryland areas, increased land surface air temperature and evapo-transpiration and decreased precipitation amount, in interaction with climate variability and human activities, have contributed to desertification. These areas include Sub-Saharan Africa, parts of East and Central Asia, and Australia.
A2.6. Global warming has led to shifts of climate zones in many world regions, including expansion of arid climate zones and contraction of polar climate zones. As a consequence, many plant and animal species have experienced changes in their ranges, abundances, and shifts in their seasonal activities.
A2.7. Climate change can exacerbate land degradation processes including through increases in rainfall intensity, flooding, drought frequency and severity, heat stress, dry spells, wind, sea-level rise and wave action, permafrost thaw with outcomes being modulated by land management. Ongoing coastal erosion is intensifying and impinging on more regions with sea level rise adding to land use pressure in some regions.
A2.8. Climate change has already affected food security due to warming, changing precipitation patterns, and greater frequency of some extreme events. In many lower-latitude regions, yields of some crops (e.g., maize and wheat) have declined, while in many higher-latitude regions, yields of some crops (e.g., maize, wheat and sugar beets) have increased over recent decades. Climate change has resulted in lower animal growth rates and productivity in pastoral systems in Africa. There is robust evidence that
agricultural pests and diseases have already responded to climate change resulting in both increases and decreases of infestations. Based on indigenous and local knowledge, climate change is affecting food security in drylands, particularly those in Africa, and high mountain regions of Asia and South America.
A 3. Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) activities accounted for around 13% of CO2, 44% of methane (CH4), and 82% of nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from human activities globally during 2007-2016, representing 23% (12.0 +/- 3.0 GtCO2e yr-1) of total net anthropogenic emissions of GHGs21. The natural response of land to human-induced environmental change caused a net sink of around 11.2 GtCO2 yr-1 during 2007-2016 (equivalent to 29% of total CO2 emissions); the persistence of the sink is uncertain due to climate change. If emissions associated with pre- and post-production activities in the global food system are included, the emissions are estimated to be 21-37% of total net anthropogenic Green House Gas emissions.
A 4. Changes in land conditions, either from land-use or climate change, affect global and regional climate. At the regional scale, changing land conditions can reduce or accentuate warming and affect the intensity, frequency and duration of extreme events. The magnitude and direction of these changes vary with location and season.
A4.4. Desertification amplifies global warming through the release of CO2 linked with the decrease in vegetation cover. This decrease in vegetation cover tends to increase local albedo, leading to surface cooling.
A 5. Climate change creates additional stresses on land, exacerbating existing risks to livelihoods, biodiversity, human and ecosystem health, infrastructure, and food systems. Increasing impacts on land are projected under all future Green House Gas emission scenarios. Some regions will face higher risks, while some regions will face risks previously not anticipated. Cascading risks with impacts on multiple systems and sectors also vary across regions.
A5.4. The stability of food supply is projected to decrease as the magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events that disrupt food chains increases. Increased atmospheric CO2 levels can also lower the nutritional quality of crops. Global crop and economic models project a median increase of 7.6% (range of 1 to 23%) in cereal prices in 2050 due to climate change, leading to higher food prices and increased risk of food insecurity and hunger. The most vulnerable people will be more severely affected.
A6. The level of risk posed by climate change depends both on the level of warming and on how population, consumption, production, technological development, and land management patterns evolve. Pathways with higher demand for food, feed, and water, more resource-intensive consumption and production, and more limited technological improvements in agriculture yields result in higher risks from water scarcity in drylands, land degradation, and food insecurity.
A6.2. Risks related to water scarcity in drylands are lower in [areas] with low population growth, less increase in water demand, and high adaptive capacity, as in Shared Socio- economic Pathway 1. In these scenarios the risk from water scarcity in drylands is moderate even at global warming of 3°C. By contrast, risks related to water scarcity in drylands are greater for [areas] with high population growth, high vulnerability, higher water demand, and low adaptive capacity. The transition from moderate to high risk occurs between a [global temperature increase between] 1.2°C and 1.5°C.
B 1. Many land-related responses that contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation can also combat desertification and land degradation and enhance food security. The potential for land-related responses and the relative emphasis on adaptation and mitigation is context specific, including the adaptive capacities of communities and regions. While land-related response options can make important contributions to adaptation and mitigation, there are some barriers to adaptation and limits to their contribution to global mitigation.
B1.1. Some land-related actions are already being taken that contribute to climate change adaptation, mitigation and sustainable development.The response options were assessed across adaptation, mitigation, combating desertification and land degradation, food security and sustainable development, and a select set of options deliver across all of these challenges. These options include, but are not limited to, sustainable food production, improved and sustainable forest management, soil organic carbon management, ecosystem conservation and land restoration, reduced deforestation and degradation, and reduced food loss and waste. These response options require integration of biophysical, socioeconomic and other enabling factors.
B1.2. While some response options have immediate impact, others take decades to deliver measurable results. Examples of response options with immediate impacts include the conservation of high-carbon ecosystems such as peatlands, wetlands, rangelands, mangroves and forests. Examples that provide multiple ecosystem services and functions, but take more time to deliver, include afforestation and reforestation as well as the restoration of high-carbon ecosystems, agroforestry, and the reclamation of degraded soils.
B1.3. The successful implementation of response options depends on consideration of local environmental and socio-economic conditions. Some options such as soil carbon management are potentially applicable across a broad range of land use types, whereas the efficacy of land management practices relating to organic soils, peatlands and wetlands, and those linked to freshwater resources, depends on specific agro-ecological conditions. Given the site-specific nature of climate change impacts on food system components and wide variations in agroecosystems, adaptation and mitigation options and their barriers are linked to environmental and cultural context at regional and local levels. Achieving land degradation neutrality depends on the integration of multiple responses across local, regional and national scales, multiple sectors including agriculture, pasture, forest and water.
B 2. Most of the response options assessed contribute positively to sustainable development and other societal goals. Many response options can be applied without competing for land and have the potential to provide multiple co-benefits. A further set of response options has the potential to reduce demand for land, thereby enhancing the potential for other response options to deliver across each of climate change adaptation and mitigation, combating desertification and land degradation, and enhancing food security.
B 4. Many activities for combating desertification can contribute to climate change adaptation with mitigation co-benefits, as well as to halting biodiversity loss with sustainable development co-benefits to society. Avoiding, reducing and reversing desertification would enhance soil fertility, increase carbon storage in soils and biomass, while benefitting agricultural productivity and food security. Preventing desertification is preferable to attempting to restore degraded land due to the potential for residual risks and maladaptive outcomes.
Each of the last 6 paragraphs are in essence what is accomplished under the principles of Permaculture.
Ironically that is the final phase of what we do in our company. The problem is that although the need is critical the money needed to implement medium to large-scale programs is not there. Governments are still not committed to doing something about the damage that climate change and bad land use has caused. Instead they waste energy and money combating the human and economic results of climate change primarily the loss of agricultural lands, and reduced food production due to climate warming.
The European Union and the U.S. is faced with a tremendous influx of economic refugees from nations where the agricultural system is in collapse or has already collapsed. Issues related to human health, malnutrition, and disease are all related to climate warming. We are trying to patch the holes in a bucket of water, instead of trying to turn off the water.
Part of the problem is of course education of the public. There is little information presented to the public…yes this report is available online, but how many of you have looked at the report? I know that YOU care. But what have you done? You say, “What can I do?” Or you say, “If I give money it will just disappear down some rat hole never to be seen again.” Or once I pay my taxes, I have little or no control anymore in deciding what they are used for.” They are diverted to build a wall of steel, or to conduct wars in countries where the only sins of the people is that their land is so damaged that they can no longer feed their families.
In this day and age we have so many causes. Equal rights, religious freedom, social justice. They can all be reduced to one simple issue and that is, giving people the ability to provide for their families. All wars can be attributed to this one factor. It has always been that way. During the Vietnam War era, the Vietnamese peasant didn’t conduct philosophical debates about the merits of Communism or Democracy. He was only concerned about supporting his family. It has been the same in all wars. Governments may use religious slogans (Allah U Akbar), or nationalist slogans (make America great again) to whip young men into rabid soldiers, but the only real issue is always keeping your family safe and healthy. The only way we can achieve that is by working together to solve the economic issues we face. And today that means to combat and reverse the growing impact of climate change. In this goal there is no difference between any religion…Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, and so on, we are all in this together.
Why do I bring all this up? Last December a few colleagues and I started an environmental consulting company in Ireland. Our goals were at first modest. We were only going to add our scientific expertise to modelling of future climate scenarios. However, this winter we met some people who are involved in the creation of sustainable agriculture. We have now joined forces and are writing proposals to fund medium scale landscape rescue projects not only around the Mediterranean, but also projects the attempt to take action now to prevent continuing landscape destruction, such as in Ireland.
The problem is that we are running into walls of what people think a traditional business is. Ireland is really into IT now…they are funding companies have more gimdads and duuhickies rather than companies that are really doing something of value to improve the lives of people.
Ireland and Europe in general have a lack of companies that are attempting to address global change issues. Sure they have plenty of trash recycling companies and fuel economic transportation related business. That is they are looking at reducing the carbon foot-print by reducing the production of waste and carbon emissions. However, they don’t have any businesses (except for one or two permaculture/sustainable agriculture businesses) that address the creation of sustainable landscapes. We do that, and we are now collaborating with permaculture businesses that are doing that as well. When we have approached the Irish business start-up agencies, we get a yawn…maybe we should do some Riverdance routines or something?
Well now I come to the crux of my diatribe. Are any of you committed enough to fighting climate change to become a supporter of a company that is trying to do something about the impact of climate change on agricultural and natural lands? Would you be willing to donate money to help a company doing this kind of work?
See what we do…then contact us at if you would like to contribute to our cause:
Contributing to our cause includes not just encouraging us to continue the good work, and sending us a few dollars or euros, but also, if you are someone that can contribute time working with us in the field, or can start a sister company that addresses landscape rescue, and the creation of sustainable environments under increasingly warmer climate, contact us. We are more than willing to help.
The issue of agricultural land deterioration due to climate change and exacerbated by human activity is the most important issue facing humanity. All other issues are simply examples of little boys with big egos posturing on the playground.