Climate Change and Land: discussion thread

by Judith Curry

Discussion thread on the new IPCC Report on Climate Change and Land.

The complete Report can be downloaded here [link].

I’m working on digesting all this, here are some articles that I’ve flagged on my twitter feed.

Comprehensive summary of the report by Carbon Brief and also a summary of media response.

Good overview by Robinson Meyer:  This land is the only land there is

Good article by Jon Foley with recommendations: Farming our way out of the climate crisis

Jonathan Gilligan in support of vegetarian diets: “News and Views” commentary in Nature Sustainability on the integration of behavioral science, diet, and dietary impact on land use into integrated assessment models of climate and human activity.

George Monbiot: The IPCC and land report fails miserably

Farmers frustrated by biased reporting on IPCC climate study. Farm leaders have accused national media of twisting the facts contained in a major climate change report in order to promote their own anti-meat agendas.

Cattle are part of nature’s carbon cycle

Very provocative article:  Food injustice

JC reflections

Addressing the complex issues associated with land use is, to my mind, arguably more important than dealing with greenhouse gas emissions (and of course these two issues are connected).  It is good to see this issue getting the attention that it deserves.  A few of my summary thoughts on this:

Growing crops for biofuels makes no sense, especially if you cut down forests to do this.

Meat will continue to be an important part of many people’s diet.  I am personally  sensitive to this issue since I have celiac disease, with cross sensitivities to many other foods in addition to gluten containing grains (meat is one of the few foods I can easily digest).

Land sequestration of carbon is the low hanging fruit in CO2 mitigation, with many ancillary benefits to soils, ecosystems and agriculture.

123 responses to “Climate Change and Land: discussion thread

  1. Like to hear more reflections from Dr Curry

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Little time for blogging as of late. In midst of hurricane season (WPAC is hot spot at the moment), and finishing up several reports.

      • “Addressing the complex issues associated with land use is, to my mind, arguably more important than dealing with greenhouse gas emissions… It is good to see this issue getting the attention that it deserves. ”

        Does this mean a Country Life followup to the special issue of British Vogue ?

      • Greg Goodman

        Robinson Meyer’s article:

        all life on Earth derives its energy from the sun. You and I don’t get our energy directly from photosynthesis, but we eat plants—or things that ate plants—that do. Every major food chain on Earth begins with a plant,

        The final link he fails to make is that plants don’t just need “sunshine” they need carbon dioxide. That makes CO2 the foundation stone of all life on earth not “pollution”.Every major food chain on Earth begins with CO2.

      • While it is true that we are carbon based lifeforms – carbon is one of many essential macro and micro nutrients that are transformed in reactions powered by by solar energy.


        And although we are 60% water – too much can be fatal.

      • Greg Goodman,

        The final link he fails to make is that plants don’t just need “sunshine” they need carbon dioxide. That makes CO2 the foundation stone of all life on earth not “pollution”.

        Good point. It should be emphasised more often. Unfortunately the CAGW cultists do all they can to divert the topic and blur this critically important point.

      • “The discharge of a toxic or contaminating substance that is likely to have an adverse effect on the natural environment or life.”

        Most people consider CO2 from fossil fuel burning a pollutant. As does the US Supreme Court.

        It seems very likely that regurgitating the same objections endlessly is a lost cause. There is a zombie simile somewhere – but they will take it as a personal insult.

      • RIE – CO2 from fossil fuels is bad but CO2 from biofuels is not bad? Haha! And since when does anyone consider the Supreme Court an arbiter of science?

      • Speaking of ‘land use’, why is there never any discussion of austerity of the superfluous…like composting the militaries of the world? True environmentalism (and science) recognizes the holism of our global situation and therefore the roots of our inefficient and polluting system…which is usury and it’s offspring (big oil, the military/industrial complex AND the UN). Besides, they are the hoarders and obfuscaters of the technology we should be using. Any proper systems analysis would recognize this crony capitalism as the source of the present gross inefficiency.

      • REi – you fail yet again. The US Supreme Court did not rule that Co2 is a pollutant. They did rule that the EPA had the authority to make such a decision. Therefore, should the EPA decide that Co2 is not a pollutant, the SCOTUS ruling would support that decision as well. Once we cleanse the EPA of activist ideological fools, we can hopefully restore some sanity to EPA policies.

  2. The complete Report can be downloaded here

    Is there someplace where the assembled whole can be downloaded in one keystroke? Has IPCC explained why they always (?) make these reports available only in pieces?

  3. “Addressing the complex issues associated with land use is, to my mind, arguably more important than dealing with greenhouse gas emissions”. I’m not sure that I can agree with that statement, because it gives credence to the manic push against fossil fuels and suggests that “dealing with” greenhouse gas emissions has some importance. Looking very objectively at the effects of atmospheric CO2, it seems pretty clear that extra CO2 is very likely net beneficial right up to what now seem like very high concentrations. Perhaps the pertinent question for the future is: How can we keep atmospheric CO2 concentrations high in the long term?

    • ” I’m not sure that I can agree with that statement, because it gives credence to the manic push against fossil fuels and suggests that “dealing with” greenhouse gas emissions has some importance.”
      Well said Mike. Our emissions have very little to do with the rising CO2 content in the atmosphere ( ) so “dealing with emissions is , in fact, useless, hopeless, and expensive.

      • Where is the CO2 coming from then?

      • Could be deforestation combined with relatively rapid warming. (emissions are only 5% of that of natural throughput)…

      • I think there’s agreement that the planet is greening. There are a number of studies covering de and re forestation. The future looks good on that.

        Here’s what I think the argument is. There’s an annual variation of from plus 5 to minus 5, and we only emit 1. Since 1 is only 10% of the annual variation, the 1 cannot cause a long term increase. If we move to plus 6 and minus 4 over a period time, the fact the our annual emissions are some fraction (not agreed to what that fraction is) of the annual range, our emissions cannot drive the bounds of the annual range or any thing you care to measure such as the average of that range.

        If the annual range was plus 2 to minus 2, new rules may apply. We would have a range to emission ratio.

        Case 1) 10 to 1
        Case 2) 4 to 1

        What is the threshold ratio where 1 (the quantity we emit) can now impact the average of the range?

        A cannot cause B to increase. We need to get to that conclusion.
        X plus Y equals X plus Y except for when it can’t.
        X plus Y equals X plus Y, sometimes.
        Sometimes is when Y is small compared to Z.
        Y can equal zero when the Z/Y ratio is large.
        Y is our emissions. It is not zero. But it can be zero when we need to be, contrary to what it actually is.

    • I agree.

  4. This was an older reference that I thought was interesting as it gives the amount of co2 sequestered in soil and the huge amount more the soil could take, which could be as much as 150ppm

    The spin over here has also been that we had to eat less meat although I am a vegetarian anyway and can look smug.

    Some of the commentators in the newspapers have had a much more robust take however. In particular the always worth reading Charles Moore in the daily telegraph makes the valid point that eating meat could easily become the thin edge of the wedge. Germany is apparently thinking of increasing tax on meat by way of VAT



    • That’s amazing Tony. Looks like soil could take up 2/3 of emissions so far. Maybe fertilizer use could go down. A lot more cost effective than renewables and carbon capture schemes.

      The meat taxes etc. are just so stupid because they go against human nature. In addition meats are great nutritionally and its hard to get all your nutrients from vegetable sources as I’m sure you know.

      • The Left’s game plan is to tax our sins and if we pay the sin taxes, we’re all absolved. We now see the big problem with the Left’s game plan– everything becomes a sin… even working in a free enterprise economy to earn the money to pay all the sin taxes.

      • Religions need the payment of indulgences to sustain them.

    • Oh no! My birthplace of Bavaria is doomed! No more sausages? What about attack on beer, which releases so much CO2, just to be bubbly and give us the alcohol buzz? Yes, this is a cultural affront!

  5. Chinese scientists may be more pragmatic than the Western climate change establishment when it comes to what we can expect from most government-funded research, e.g., the Yang and Lu study found that global warming during the 1961-2012 period was linked to helping preserve China’s drylands. The study, “provides a preliminary estimation of recent climate changes on wind erosion risk in China’s drylands region, indicating an obvious decrease in the wind erosion climatic erosivity…”

    • Chinese elites are generally more pragmatic than their Western counterparts. China provides a model for environmental policies that balance the need or economic growth with environmental improvements. Productivity gains have allowed a reduction in agricultural land use, and large scale restoration projects have also been undertaken. Building small cities in rural areas is increasing urbanisation and moving millions out of small-scale and subsistence farming, which allows for land consolidation, mechanisation and better practices. With smart policies it is possible to meet growing demand from a more affluent population AND make ecological and environmental improvements.

      • “China provides a model for environmental policies that balance the need or economic growth with environmental improvements.”

        As shown by the clean, clear air in Beijing.

        Oh, wait…

      • bigterguy: “As shown by the clean, clear air in Beijing.”

        China has transformed itself from a backward poverty-stricken nation to an economic superpower in the last few decades. The air was a lot cleaner fifty years ago, but people were a lot poorer. In 1970, GDP per capita was $100 p.a. Today it is more than $8,000. Average life expectancy in that period increased by 33 years. Life is about trade-offs. On balance, I think China got its priorities right.

        Air pollution reached a peak in Beijing 20 years ago due to massive industrialisation and population growth in the city and region. However, pollution control measures introduced since that time have dramatically improved air quality. From 1998 to 2018, SO2 concentrations fell by 93%, NO2 by 38%, and PM10 by 55%. PM2.5 data is only available from 2013. From 2013 to 2018 levels fell by 25%. This is in the context of a ten-fold increase in GDP, a three-fold increase in the number of cars, and a 75% increase in population.

        I think you badly need to get some perspective.

      • aporiac1960: and a 75% increase in population.

        from 1998 to 2018? Like from 1 billion to 1.75 billion?

      • Well, not everyone agrees…

        “India and China lead the world in the total number of deaths attributable to air pollution in 2016 with 1.61 and 1.58 million respectively. ”

        The stats may be overblown, as environmental concerns almost always are, but the air in Chinese cities is about as bad as anywhere in the world.

      • Re Chinese pollution. In the early ’60s, the UK was far more economically advanced than China, but pollution was an often terrible problem in London until the Clean Air Act of, I think, 1964. I remember one night when I came out of the tube to walk a mile or so home, the air was so polluted that visibility was only a few yards/metres. After walking around for an hour, I found myself back at the tube station. I’d encountered the same people a number of times in my journey. The house I lived in had a semi-basement, so that there was a drop from the edge of the pavement. One night I found a bus trying to get home in the murk, the driver had come right across the road, mounted the kerb and was about to drive into the abyss. (Yes, I stopped him.) Like many environmental issues, it’s only when people reach a certain level of wealth/income/living standards that they give a higher priority to pollution.

      • bigterguy, the pollution in North India was horrific when I was there in late 2017. Without wind or rain, there was a constant pall of pollution to a height of perhaps 40-50 metres. At that time Delhi was the most polluted city in the world, with about 14 north Indian cities in the top 20. So worse than China.

      • matthewrmarler “from 1998 to 2018? Like from 1 billion to 1.75 billion?”

        The figures I gave were for Beijing specifically, not China as a whole. Sorry, I could have made that clearer.

        Interestingly, national and city authorities have in the last few years enforced an almost complete freeze on population growth in Beijing. It seems they want to stabilise it at the current ca. 21 million and let other cities take up more of the pressure from the continuing urbanisation trend.

      • bigterguy “Well, not everyone agrees…”

        Progress is a bumpy road :-)

        PM2.5 pollution is just about the hardest to eliminate and is dramatically affected by weather conditions, so it’s not surprising the numbers bounce around. A bit more than half of Beijing’s air pollution comes from outside the city – which certainly complicates things from a political and administrative point of view. Greenpeace (who are cited in the article you link), serves a useful role in highlighting the problem. Unfortunately, it only ever propose worse solutions than the ones that already exist, and so are best ignored for the most part.

        So far as pollution originating from outside of Beijing is concerned – that is certainly a serious and difficult problem because heavy industry (which is a major source), is concentrated in North East China (where Beijing is also located). Moving heavy industry is a non-trivial problem. Remember that Greenpeace is only one NGO. If China took the necessary measures to move these companies elsewhere it would cause a lot of disruption and hardship to a lot of people, and there are ten human rights NGOs that would then take China to task for this callous treatment of its citizens (Greenpeace would probably join in as well)!

        However, we should not begrudge clever and creative people who have found and exploited a profitable niche in a complex economic system, and so all power to Greenpeace! However, to take them any more seriously than any other market participant seeking a cut for themselves would be foolish.

        Within Beijing itself, the primary source of PM2.5 pollution is now vehicles, of which diesel vehicles – despite being a relatively small minority (c.a. 9%), are estimated to contribute around 60%. In case you are wondering, this is a Greenpeace victory because diesel vehicles produce less carbon dioxide than those using petrol, and reducing CO2 is the key to human heath, happiness and prosperity. “Choke it up folks – it’s good for you” would be the Greenpeace banner if it was ever able to realise its dreams for a better world. Next to the banner would be a large area of blank paper where you could write the names of people you wish to denounce for expressing reservations. Obviously, I’m only kidding. No one who has claimed to have been motivated by the wish to make things better for human beings has ever made things worse. That’s never happened – especially in China.

        My own recommendation for a fast, practical, affordable and radical improvement in air quality in Beijing would be to convert every vehicle to LPG use. Building out the infrastructure would also be practical and affordable. That would seriously improve the air quality in Beijing, but would imply a capitulation with oil and gas interests, and so cannot be contemplated.

      • Faustino aka Genghis Cunn: “In the early ’60s, the UK was far more economically advanced than China, but pollution was an often terrible problem”

        Far worse than just London, and far more recently than the sixties, Britain was labelled the “dirty man of Europe”. Then we discovered North Sea gas!

        That resource is now declining. We could probably frack our way out of this horrible predicament, but there are powerful forces that prefer to see the country go up in flames because it would be a magnificent spectacle and would alleviate their boredom.

  6. From the article by Robinson Mayer: A recent high-profile study, for instance, cheerfully suggested soaking up most of the planet’s carbon pollution by planting 1.2 trillion trees across 2.2 billion acres worldwide. It was impressive research, but it was immediately sold to the public as The Solution to Climate Change. And there’s a problem with that. Those 2.2 billion acres—an area roughly the size of the continental United States—are already in use.

    Personally I would like to see planting of salt-tolerant Mangroves and many other salt-tolerant varieties, legumes, shrubs and flowers, along the arid coastlines of the world, as was done in Eritrea.

    It would be nice if this report would re-orient people’s thinking that massive investment in low CO2 power generation is the most productive immediate use of resources.

    • Matthew

      There remains a lot of very tasty low hanging co2 fruit. Regenerating soil and improving its fertility, planting of trees, mangroves, legumes, reducing peat depletion etc would be among many other measures that the public could easily get on board with.

      Instead the ipcc seek to punish us and antagonise people with silly renewables, cutting down on meat and dairy etc.


      • The justification for reducing CO2 has not been established. Reducing CO2 concentration, or slowing its rate of increase is probably harmful, not beneficial.

      • Tonyb: planting of trees, mangroves, legumes, reducing peat depletion

        I buried my emphasis: Where to do all this planting, instead of farmland and good forests? Seashores where nothing grows already.

      • Peter Lang: Reducing CO2 concentration, or slowing its rate of increase is probably harmful, not beneficial.

        Improving land and soil management is probably a no regrets policy, Actually absorbing all anthropogenic CO2 is not going to happen soon.

        I think of CO2-induced warming as potentially a slowly developing small problem, at the worst, and not likely a problem. I wanted to express agreement with the idea of improving land and soil management.

      • This easily takes the cake – against strong competition – for the most poorly conceived skeptic notion ever. Carbon sequestration in soils has major benefits in addition to offsetting anthropogenic emissions from fossil fuel combustion, land use conversion, soil cultivation, continuous grazing and cement and steel manufacturing. Restoring soil carbon stores increases agronomic productivity and enhances global food security. Increasing the soil organic content enhances water holding capacity and creates a more drought tolerant agriculture – with less downstream flooding. There is a critical level of soil carbon that is essential to maximising the effectiveness of water and nutrient inputs. Global food security, especially for countries with fragile soils and harsh climate such as in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, cannot be achieved without improving soil quality through an increase in soil organic content. Wildlife flourishes on restored grazing land helping to halt biodiversity loss. Reversing soil carbon loss is a new green revolution where conventional agriculture is hitting a productivity barrier with exhausted soils and increasingly expensive inputs.

        Increased agricultural productivity, increased downstream processing and access to markets build local economies and global wealth. Economic growth provides resources for solving problems – conserving and restoring ecosystems, better sanitation and safer water, better health and education, updating the diesel fleet and other productive assets to emit less black carbon and reduce the health and environmental impacts, developing better and cheaper ways of producing electricity, reduce nitrous oxide, methane and CFC emissions, replacing cooking with wood and dung with better ways of preparing food thus avoiding respiratory disease and again reducing black carbon emissions. A global program of agricultural soils restoration – the 4 per 1000 soil carbon initiative – is the foundation for balancing the human ecology.

        Fossil fuel CO2 in the atmosphere is a resource not to be wasted – even it there weren’t other compelling reasons for drawing it down. .

      • matthewrmarler

        A policy is only no-regrets if the benefits outweigh the costs. If governments implement programs that have substantial costs to the tax payer, it is unlikely to be a no-regrets policy. The only way to shows it is a no-regrets policy is with substantial, unbiased, economic analyses.

        If it was truly no-regrets, the vast majority of farmers world wide would be doing it themselves, without any government intervention or incentives.

        Renewable energy advocates have been claiming for 40 years that renewable energy is no-regrets. That claim couldn’t be further from the truth. The same is probably true for the soil carbon sequestration claims.

      • Peter Lang: If it was truly no-regrets, the vast majority of farmers world wide would be doing it themselves, without any government intervention or incentives.

        I don’t think you know what a vast majority of farmers world wide would choose if they had greater capital backing than what they have. In the U.S the farmers generally oppose such soil conservation efforts as leaving strips of trees and other foliage along the creeks and streams running through their land; they make us of the short term profit of cutting them all down and then later pay the cost of greater soil erosion. You wrote a continuation of the standard economics argument that if something is a good idea then someone is doing it already. Like the Panama Canal, nuclear power, radar, and the Interstate highway system: if they were good ideas, there’d have been no need for government funding in the first place. Government financed almost all radar R&D, first for war and secondarily for the air transportation system; private industry developed microwave ovens — I don’t mean that commercializing microwave ovens was a negligible achievement, but without the earlier government-funded radar R&D there’d be no microwave ovens.

        Two fallacies to be avoided are: government-run programs always produce good results; government-run programs never produce good results. You can say the same thing about the private sector: some development projects work, some don’t, and some that do work are postponed for years for no better reason than the one you wrote: If it were a good idea, all the principals would be doing it already.

        There’s lots in that IPCC report to object to, but better irrigation and flood control, increased reforestation and afforestation, and a few other things mentioned are good ideas.

        Renewable energy advocates have been claiming for 40 years that renewable energy is no-regrets. That claim couldn’t be further from the truth. The same is probably true for the soil carbon sequestration claims.

        I don’t claim that renewable energy is no regrets, and I was advocating planting in hard to grow areas instead of farmland, copying the successful effort in Eritrea.

      • matthew

        whilst there s little scope for giant plantings of forests covering countries the size of America, there is plenty of scope in a forest depleted country such as the UK to achieve better forestation from single specimens in urban streets, private houses, the great landed estates, parks etc etc

        Similarly as regards soil, different techniques can be applied to those of recent decades. both are win win situations, or at the least achieve what our lords and masters demand without causing the problems/costs that other co2 techniques, such as renewables may cause


      • climate reason: there is plenty of scope in a forest depleted country such as the UK

        And lots more places than that. An example of successful reforestation was the Nobel Peace Prize winning reforestation of the large deforested area around the base of Mt Kilimanjaro, which had the secondary effect of restoring much of the “snow” cap that had diminished. It was initiated and driven by what you might call a busybody, not by legions of private farmers.

        Reforestation has also occurred in Northern S America and Central America. The US has benefitted from private and government-sponsored reforestation since the late 1800s, so the US has more forest cover now than at the end of the 19th century (despite 3 disastrous epizootics that cut the populations of some popular species.)

      • Matthewrmarler.

        Thank you for your comments.

        “I don’t think you know what a vast majority of farmers world wide would choose if they had greater capital backing than what they have.”

        True. But I don’t think you know what the cost of the “capital backing” would be in terms of opportunity cost compared with where that same capital could be better utilised, such as on health, education and infrastructure. Nor, do I think you know what the benefit of that expenditure would be. I suggest, that the component that reduces global warming would be a disbenefit, not a benefit.

        “There’s lots in that IPCC report to object to, but better irrigation and flood control, increased reforestation and afforestation, and a few other things mentioned are good ideas.”

        Yes. But these are not climate mitigation policies. They should not be part of the IPCC brief, any more than the other “progressive” ideals IPCC is using fear of climate change to promote – such as gender equity, diversity, inclusion, etc.

      • Peter Lang: Yes. But these are not climate mitigation policies. They should not be part of the IPCC brief,

        The focus of IPCC is on reducing CO2. I think that is basically misplaced. But they are widely respected and quoted. That they choose to bring attention to land use is important, imo.

      • Matthewrmarler,

        Further to my reply to your point: “I don’t think you know what a vast majority of farmers world wide would choose if they had greater capital backing than what they have.”

        If the proposed “Improving land and soil management” program is economically viable – i.e. profitable – farmers will be able to borrow money from banks and pay it back. Farmers have been fantastically innovative for hundreds of years, and still are. If it is feasible, it will happen – at least to the extent it is feasible. Departments of agriculture and research organisations, such as CSIRO in Australia, will help if it is feasible. Apart from that, IPCC and governments should stay out of it. Let the private sector innovate.

      • matthewrmarler,

        “The focus of IPCC is on reducing CO2. I think that is basically misplaced. But they are widely respected and quoted.”

        I think IPCC and UNFCCC should be closed down. The climate scare campaign is running out of puff. People are waking up to this fact – except for the ‘progressives’, CAGW cult followers, and the young and the gullible.

        “That they choose to bring attention to land use is important, imo.”

        In that case, what else should they be advocating for. There is no end to how the UN and the progressives will push their Agenda 21 agenda and much more if given a free run.

      • Peter Lang: Let the private sector innovate.

        That too. The “green revolution”, namely the selective breeding of rice to resist lodging when fertilizer was used, built on the private sector invention and manufacture of fertilizer and the UN sponsored selective breeding program. In the US, selective breeding of food stuffs is a private-public partnership.

        “That they choose to bring attention to land use is important, imo.”

        In that case, what else should they be advocating for.

        What I think they ought to advocate for is of less importance than even the rest of what I write — that is, I have the political power of One California Voter.. That they have chosen to direct attention to land use is a noteworthy change given how much the world in general esteems their work.

      • Matthewrmarler

        I’ve been thinking about your comment that “Improving land and soil management is probably a no regrets policy.” I disagree. Here are some of my reasons.

        August 10, 2019 at 11:07 pm : “Improving land and soil management is probably a no regrets policy

        I doubt this is the case. I’d need to see the evidence that it is truly a “no-regrets” policy. That would require a sophisticated and properly quality controlled analysis of the total through-life cost of the programs and of the benefits.

        The benefits must exceed the total life-time costs – without including any benefits from CO2 mitigation. However, if the reduction in CO2 emissions reduces global GDP growth, as I expect is the case, then that cost should be included.

        The benefits of the government funding for improved land and soil management must be weighed against the value of the missed opportunities of where the government funding could have been more productively utilised.

        The Copenhagen Consensus Centre ranks policies on their return on investment. “Improved land and soil management” does not rank.

        The world is not short of food. In fact, the land area used for food production has been shrinking as the world population has been increasing. Therefore, there is no need for more programs substantially above what is already ongoing, certainly on the basis of climate change. This demonstrates that this is not something the IPCC should be involved in.

        Agriculture contributes about 8% of world GDP. Given this small percentage, and the points above, it is doubtful the benefits of IPCC’s policy to sequester CO2 in soil could be demonstrated to be a “no regrets” policy.

        I expect a actions to sequester CO2 in soil would be a very high-regrets policy, (akin to the renewable energy policies).

      • Peter Lang: I doubt this is the case. I’d need to see the evidence that it is truly a “no-regrets” policy. That would require a sophisticated and properly quality controlled analysis of the total through-life cost of the programs and of the benefits.

        You might be right. I would like to see specific programs (planting trees along creek beds to reduce erosion) in specific locales (the US midwest.) The US benefited a lot from adopting contour plowing, which was at least partly government supported. I don’t think any regrets have arisen from the tree-planting in Eritrea, the flatland around Kilimanjaro, and Western Indonesia.

        As for sequestering CO2 mechanically in underground salt domes and such, that seems pointless to me, except where it has been used to enhance recovery of oil.

  7. I started the Carbon Brief article and immediately my BS sensor went off.

    “This warming – along with associated changes in rainfall patterns – has “altered the start and end of growing seasons, contributed to regional crop yield reductions, reduced freshwater availability, and put biodiversity under further stress and increased tree mortality”, the report notes.”

    In the US drought has been decreasing and over most of the country reservoirs are full. I thought rainfall was supposed to increase as the air warmed and held more water vapor. Crop yields continue to increase. It just smells like more alarmist cherry picking.

  8. This is an older article on using satellites that can measure plant health. Fluorescence measurements provide direct and immediate information about plant productivity.

  9. I’ve given up for now. I see nothing to indicate this report is anything other than speculation. What we know for sure is that the main cause of soil degradation in the past has been poor logging, farming and grazing practices along with pollution (for example from oil production). These are also easy to address.

    For example they say beach erosion will intensify. Well, its been a continuous process as sea levels have risen since the end of the last ice age. With rapid sea level rise, there were many fewer beaches too. But the planet recovered.

  10. Oh, another IPCC report forecasting that everything is going to be a lot worse in their ‘scientifically verified’ future, whereas as far as I can see, everything is gradually getting better.

  11. Practical reinvention of farming comes from farmers – millions worldwide – and not abstractions of the chattering class.

    With the spread of this knowledge the most pressing environmental pressures – nutrients and biosphere integrity – can be addressed. As well as making agriculture more drought and flood resistant and productive. The later a foundation for food security.

    At the root of progress is water management – swales, terracing, soil protecting, a million of these for half a billion people by 2040.

  12. Was there ever any climate on “Planet A” which did not cause massive problems with food production?
    A few decades ago the dangerous cooling caused almost the same hysteria, NOAA “experts” claimed:

    BTW, who are those delegation people correcting so many words in the reports? Politicians? Scientists? Both?

  13. Even with its large Vegan contingent, COP-25 may have to secure offsets for more than transportation fuel.

  14. Pingback: Climate Change and Land: discussion thread — Climate Etc. – Climate-

  15. Good article by Jon Foley with recommendations: Farming our way out of the climate crisis

    What climate crisis. There is no valid evidence to demonstrate global warming is net harmful. There is plenty or evidence that it is net beneficial. The belief that global warming will be net harmful is an unsupported.

    Land sequestration of carbon is the low hanging fruit in CO2 mitigation, with many ancillary benefits to soils, ecosystems and agriculture.

    Why do you advocate for CO2 mitigation? Where is the evidence that global warming is net harmful?

    What is the net cost – benefit of land sequestration. If it was economic it would be happening with no need for advocacy by alarmists and UN and government policies to make it happen. It’s another crazy policy that will be just as damaging as the economically disastrous policies promoting renewable energy.

  16. Here’s what we have:

    I would modify it to include less sensitive land with 20 year easements. Farmland rent up here is around $175/acre. You might get 1 to 2 tons per acre of CO2 a year. Which is pricey. So other benefits could be included. Grazing cattle on the land is allowed to an extent. Hunting is allowed. Adding space for pollinators which might be important in areas that are two crop rotations. All the water that didn’t go into a drainage ditch is somewhere. Maybe back in the air to fall on someone else’s land or maybe in some aquifer. The roots punch down creating pathways for water. Total land to river water runoff would be reduced, reducing Spring flooding along the Red River.

    After 20 years, what do you have? Your land that is rich with carbon. This is like money in the bank. That lowers the annual payments that compensate for the lost rent as compared to a permanent easement. Farmers aren’t stupid. They offer up their least productive land. It might be hilly, or subject to flooding or erosion. If you offer a flat $135 a year per acre, those demanding higher rents because they have greater yields will not apply.

    If for some reason, we need more farmland, the government could change its mind and put the land back into production. With suitable protections for those in the program. The specifics would have to worked out, but the point is flexibility. 10 year terms are another possibility.

    How would this work? We’d need more money. Perhaps an increased gas tax. There might even be a link between CO2 and gasoline and diesel fuel use. Those saying, no new taxes, can watch the liberals implement their ideas.

    Would this work politically? The Democrats if they pull this off right, would get votes from Red farm states. The Republicans might prevent that from happening and blunt some of the noise about climate change and push this.

    Land that is in grass all the time is different than land that is pulverized and bare from October to April. Corn stubble or bean stubble. Even during the growing season, it’s just the crop waiting to emerge or taking up only rows at the surface. You wouldn’t really classify it as vegetated except for 3 months. This is corn. So you’d be changing the landscape. With what happens with the sunlight falling on it and what happens to the water that falls on it. In Minnesota, we’ve removed grasslands and not replaced them with anything comparable.

    • To add to my above: Good land in SouthWest Minnesota is worth $6000/acre. Assume a 5% return. That’s $300/acre rent per year not taking into account property taxes. To be honest, making the numbers work could be a challenge. What can lower the required annual rent is the fact that farmland never wears out. Its value at the end of any time period is greater than when you started. This is a generalization.

      This also sets up as a high SCC favors farmers in regards to proposals similar to mine.

    • What they used to do with perpetual conservation easements was to do a before and after easement appraisal. These usually resulted in a devaluation of the land because its economic use was being surrendered in the easement.. Say on a 100 acre easement, before 6,000 per acre; after 3,000 per acre. That a $300,000 value destruction, which the landowner took as a tax deduction – assuming they had taxable income that could be offset. I don’t think it had a carry forward; all in one year, but I may remember that incorrectly. The IRS got upset because many landowners later found an economic us not prohibited by the easement, and their land sometimes ended more valuable than the before appraisal.

      The last case I read the courts ruled against the IRS.

      I don’t know how it is done now. My farm is half easement.

      • For at least 10 years, charitable contributions of more than a certain percentage of your adjusted gross income could and still can be carried foward. I’d protray my idea as rental agreement when it comes to income taxes, if that’s possible. I don’t have knowledge in this area. But reporting annual payments as rental income is simple. This would apply to a temporary easements. Temporary easements could sunset. There are arguments for doing sunsetting agreements.

        Valuing land. Not easy. One of the least certain areas.

  17. This IPCC report has been forced to admit global greening from atmospheric CO2 fertilisation:

    Summary for Policymakers

    A2.3. Satellite observations15 have shown vegetation greening16 over the last three decades in parts of Asia, Europe, South America, central North America, and southeast Australia. Causes of greening include combinations of an extended growing season, nitrogen deposition, CO2fertilisation17, and land management (high confidence). Vegetation browning18 has been observed in some regions including northern Eurasia, parts of North America, Central Asia and the Congo Basin, largely as a result of water stress (medium confidence). Globally, vegetation greening has occurred over a larger area than vegetation browning (high confidence). {2.2.3, Box 2.3, 2.2.4, 3.2.1, 3.2.2, 4.3.1, 4.3.2, 4.6.2, 5.2.2}

    Global greening is the most significant and possibly the only significant climatic effect of anthropogenic CO2.

    • Phil Salmon,

      Thank you. More evidence that increased CO2 and global warming are beneficial for ecosystems.

      However, global warming irrespective of the cause is probably beneficial for energy consumption, and also possibly/probably for the Health, Storms, Water impact sectors. Further, the projected impacts of sea level rise are probably greatly exaggerated because they are based on excessively high estimates of rise. Seal level rise might be the only impact sector that is negatively impacted by global warming, and it only slightly – i.e. near 0% of GDP impact at +3C GMST.

      Note to strawman specialists: if you can’t refute the points with relevant facts – i.e. refute the global % of GDP for the whole of impact sector, as distinct from cherry picked, selection-biased examples – then don’t clutter up the thread with strawman arguments and statements of your unfounded beliefs.

    • phil salmon: This IPCC report has been forced to admit global greening from atmospheric CO2 fertilisation:

      I think that is more important than almost everything else in the report. Whenever the IPCC is cited in support of rapid removal of carbon-fueled power and transportation systems, that message should be hammered home as well.

  18. “On the face of it, elevated CO2 boosting the foliage in dry country is good news and could assist forestry and agriculture in such areas; however there will be secondary effects that are likely to influence water availability, the carbon cycle, fire regimes and biodiversity, for example,” Dr Donohue said.

    It could well be fractal geometry Phil – 😎. Quite apart from not being able to predict future warming or cooling in the nonlinear, chaotic climate system – let alone the biological ‘benefits’ of global greening off the top of their heads.

    Preeminent modeler Tim Palmer describes greenhouse gas emissions as putting a wedge under a magnetic pendulum. A metaphor of course.

    Pissant quibbles from such as Peter Lang are ultimately monumentally irrelevant – no one gives a rat’s arse. Carbon is much better returned to soils and ecosystems. Rattan Lal – to update Tony’s link – suggests that 500 GtC has been lost from the terrestrial system since the advent of of agriculture. This is more than the 350 GtC from fossil fuel burning, cement production, etc. He estimates potential drawdown of 157 ppm of CO2 this century.

    Energy systems will transition to 21st sources – SMR seem quite likely. So CO2 temporarily in the atmosphere is a resource for realizing key social, economic and environmental objectives.

    And farmers all over the world are doing it.


    • Energy systems will transition to 21st (century) sources,

    • Robert
      The fractal geometry of spatiotemporal climate metrics will tend to be increasingly visible at longer timescales – in the short term it means unpredictability.

      Remember the Bond 2003 paper that proposed that increasing CO2 will cause grassland to transition to forest by allowing trees to grow fast enough in between wildfires to become resistant to fires and thus become established. Such transitions would presumably sequester more carbon into soil (forest will create deeper humid soil than grassland).

      Thus while attacking Peter, between the lines you still agree with his point about the benefit of CO2 greening. In the end it can’t fail to move more carbon into soil for instance in arid regions that become grasses over.

      An African Savanna returning to forest would of course change the whole ecosystem in a way that would take some getting used to – although much of Africa has oscillated between forest and grassland f many times during the Pleistocene.

      • I was of course joking about fractal geometry. But ecology is nonlinear and chaotic – and Dr. Donahue’s quote about what we don’t know seems more germane than proselytizing about what you imagine you know.

      • CO2 is greening the biosphere and this is a benefit.
        This is not just “on the face of it”.
        We know this more robustly than we know anything else about CO2 in climate (Check out hundreds of peer reviewed papers at “CO2 Science”).
        No need even for fractal geometry :-D although it will play a role somewhere e.g. the architecture of plants.

      • Robert I Ellison: I was of course joking about fractal geometry.

        That’s refreshing. I thought, of course, that you were serious, and that’s why I was laughing. As an intended joke, it is a lot less funny.

        You link to good stuff, as I an others have written. But once I was, shall we say “enlightened”, I began to feel merry when anticipating and then reading your own comments.

      • The ultimate in hand waving at hundreds of papers from Phil. And a bit more crazy cyber stalking from Matthew.

      • Robert I Ellison: cyber stalking

        Nonsense. You post here voluntarily with the intention that your musings be read.

      • More unintelligible but creepy cyber stalking?

  19. MY ideas were sismilar to Judiths:

    -Good to bring the point up.

    -What about biofuels? Palmoil in South East Asia, sugar cane in Brasil, corn in the US and Europe. Not sure what else in Europe, used to be rapeseed but just read that it is reduced because of outlawing of neonicotinoids.

    -Then organic farming is using much more space than conventional.

    What might the Greens say about the last two points?

    But you have to have a look at the quantities which might change the perspective on biofuels.
    On organic farming on the other hand the science seems to be “settled”.

    • I forgot charcoal in Brasil for iron production.
      And then the use of wood for heating/cooking everywhere.

      All of which suggests one to ask what may happen to land use, especially forests without fossil fuels?
      Which is a distinct possibility over 50-100 years.
      This seems to me to be the real possible catastrophe. No word about it.

      Considering the Carbon Brief writeup there are a lot of “what if xy, then …” sentences where there so far isn’t much evidence of increase of the “whats”.
      So mostly model based speculative catastrophism.

      The upsides of Co2 seem to have received only cursory consideration.

      To my ears the headlines in the news were much scarier as the report.
      If you fill in the missing Whats not much remains.
      More humans put more stress on the land. So much was already known in the Middle Ages and early Modernity when Europe was increasingly deforestated until it was rescued by the discovery of fossil fuels.

      Soil erosion was the scare story of the early ecological movement in late 19th century.

      In the early 1990 the German Greens campaigned on restricting building because of soil loss. Lately they proposed expropriating owners of plots who don’t want to build houses on them. You have to set your priorities.

  20. Judith says, “…I have celiac disease…”

    Welcome to the club.. What gluten-filled yummy thing do you miss most?

    I recently started low sodium, too, so that kills wheat-free pizza for me at pizza joints. .


  21. Since Medical Marijuana is the thing, can Medical Meat be far behind?

  22. Very interesting theme and cloud of reports, papers, op eds, etc

    Should we do something about land use?

    Of course.

    But this array of good studies and reasoned conclusions and recommendations in the land use ‘space’ suffers from the same organizational bias that has driven all of the “northern hemisphere” environmental and climate central policy work for decades.

    My work involves mapping and helping to change large complex human organizations. Traveled millions of miles documenting autos, food, water, mobile devices, communications, healthcare, etc

    …watched for years as most large organizations go bankrupt and successful “user-assembled” networks self organize to global scale (internet).

    Principles of human behavior that continue to repeat themselves:

    1. Humans organize in two basic, simultaneous, ever-changing networks

    a. Central command (scalable)
    b. Emergent (scale free)

    2. Both forms are always present all the time

    3. One is not better than the other. They complement each other and self-correct over time. Emergent networks are always much larger than command networks, sometimes “infinitely” larger – like cosmic space

    4. Sustainable networks are constantly re-balancing command and emergence IN WAYS THAT ARE ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO PREDICT. Similar to genomic forces, and cosmic forces. See ants. Thus “follow the ants”

    GM and most Anglo car companies failed because they tried to eliminate the emergent hands-on behavior of their workers.

    Toyota, Honda and similar have thrived and adapted because their central systems are constantly adapting upward from the behavior of workers and drivers.

    5. Humans, especially Anglo northern hemisphere ones, tend to see all non-human phenomena in terms of this command-emergence framework – AND SPEND TONS OF TIME TRYING TO CREATE THE PERFECT COMMAND NETWORKS THAT CAN REDUCE OR ELIMINATE THAT MESSY, UNPREDICTABLE “EMERGENT” PART OF ALL SYSTEMS


    The IPCC, and similar central command organizations always see and think in terms of orderly, “scalable” solutions that can be mandated downward from small groups of “experts” onto the behavior of 7 billion emergent humans, and trillions of “species”

    This is why most central environmental regulation, like subsidized, corn-based “clean ethanol” – fails all the time.

    It only took a short time to sample the – wonderful – diverse studies in this land-use array to see that it will fail – AS CURRENTLY CONSTRUCTED – in IMPLEMENTATION.


    The wonderful local science, thinking, and ethical caring in the local studies…

    …is being framed up into a General Motors kind of central command AVERAGING that is already suggesting that powerful central command organizations (governments, etc) should instruct 7 billion other people what to do with their local land.

    These 7 billion people have been doing things on their own for centuries, and they are fighting to survive every day with their own wits.

    So IF these wonderful land-use studies are going to be reduced to a narrow set of – conflicting – rules for everyone else, then they are most likely to follow GM, GE, Phillips, and hundreds of other human bankruptcies into history

    The really hard science question is:

    “How can 7-9 billion humans STIMULATE AND REWARD EACH OTHER FROM THE BOTTOM UP – to create millions of experiments that can improve all life on Earth?”

    Now that literally all humans on Earth have access to an inter-networked communication system – so they can share peer-to-peer successful experiments – instantly….on cheap mobile devices…

    …why do we have to wait decades for a central command of – wonderful, well-intentioned, DIVERSE, skilled experts to reach CONSENSUS on the AVERAGE things people should do worldwide?

    How do we find ways to tap into the natural desire of all organisms to thrive – and create thousands of, sharable, low-cost, low-risk, peer-to-peer entrepreneurial experiments in land use worldwide?

    • Because it’s defined as a problem that needs to be fixed. The local cost of fossil fuels is nothing. The worldwide cost is higher some say. The costs are not taken into account locally.

      How do you deal with the above argument or how do you suggest the problem if it exists be solved?

      Your post isn’t specific enough to let people look further at what you’re saying.

      • Marty Anderson

        Hi – not sure what you mean.

        My comment is very specific, but it is highly strategic, in that it is intended to look at how the various problems and threats can actually be managed, at a global level.

        Let me try to summarize:

        There are two parts to the climate challenge (as there are to all such large scale challenges)

        1. What is the problem? This usually involves a forecast of some kind;

        2, What do we DO about it? This can only work if people at ALL levels of the target organization can collaborate around the forecast problem, EVEN IF THEY DISAGREE WITH THE CENTRAL FORECAST

        The IPCC and others are defining what they say are global problems and challenges. They built a consensus – among specific “scientists” on the global challenge.

        Their implicit “target organization” to change is “everyone on Earth”

        I happen to agree that we need to do many significant things to help mitigate human effects on the environment, but I am experienced in large scale social organization – on a practical level.

        The “science” that is missing from the “climate” debate is MANAGEMENT SCIENCE

        How does one stimulate large groups, of diverse people, who don’t all share the same beliefs or experience, to move toward a common DYNAMIC behavior that is beneficial to all?

        This is what is missing from the IPCC work so far. A small group of good people, less than 0.000001 percent of humans on Earth, say they have a “consensus” on the future of the world 100 years from now, and they argue that the rest of the people on Earth should “get rid of” one element (carbon) in one place (climate), with some very limited programs (solar, wind, etc)

        (I am grossly oversimplifying here,. Trying to be ‘specific” from a management perspective. Not at all disrespectful of the environmentalists I happen to agree with in principle.)

        This is a very small network of people, trying to change the behavior of an infinitely larger group of people, who in reality have extremely diverse visions, needs, and capabilities.

        A manager, or management scientist looking at this does not need to believe, or even understand fully, the “climate science” details, to know that this form of social change has never been successful in human history.

        So, if one wants to save the land and climate, one needs a very different strategy,

        At this level the “command” and “emergent” change strategies become crucial for the ultimate goal – saving the climate and all its many species.

        I have been deep into the practical management issues of climate change for years. Starting with mobile source emissions. The data show that the regulatory forecasts of the 1980’s were quite wrong – they targeted sulfur and nitrogen as single-variable foes for example (not carbon).

        And so, when I read a sample of the “land use” documents being used to support a new large-scale “consensus” – it was immediately clear that behavior change strategy would be much more important than the consensus of a few thousand well-intentioned technical experts, who are still not addressing the much more important and complex issues of getting 7 billion people to change most of what they know about something as life sustaining as “food”.

        My post was designed to get people thinking about the realities of telling 7 billion humans, who behave according to centuries-old cultural norms, how to fix the surface of Planet Earth.

        Sorry if it seemed too abstract.

        We try our best.


      • What’s their plan to get people, like most of us to care and do something? Scare us. And rely on other sub optimal approaches. Like blaming corporations or Trump. Shaming us.

        I agree, it’s been a clown show and will get worse with command approaches. I suppose we can realize it’s not working, but that’s not stopping enough people yet to cut down on the waste of money and time.

        It’s been a political campaign where they win and nothing improves.

    • That sounds a lot like recommending capitalism with structural and procedural restraints. As have done India, China, and Russia to varying degrees – all of them, of course adulterated with varying degrees of corruption, sometimes massive.

      Capitalism in its best form – i.e. no sweat shops, slavery, lethal mines, etc, with free choice, equal legal status, etc. – is just the way things get worked out best with no need for frazzled conflicted ever-so-earnest boffins burning the midnight oil to make the “right” decisions. Think West Wing. Even more ludicrous, of course, is the mullah consulting the Qur’an to determine who should get what and when. Think of capitalism as the law of gravity as applied to economics. That’s what brought down the Soviet Empire: apparatchiks allocating goods and services according to their best notions. Wishful thinking has been the downfall of most empires, and bodes ill for the survival of the species.

      That form of capitalism then, though not perfect, gets a bad rap, since it is inherently self-correcting. An analogous process might be said to be at play in science, since many discoveries and advances have been the work of “amateurs” and private projects.

      As you point out, the balance is important, as is the possibility for self-correction which is missing in the top-down control.

    • Do you have a website or blog?

  23. Pingback: Climate Change and Land: discussion thread | Watts Up With That?

  24. Why do people, even scientists, fail to recognize that methane emissions from cattle is part of the carbon cycle? The cow is, in this sense, similar to a car on biofuel.

  25. The anti meat campaign was promoted earlier by Lancet. Since Christiana Figueres,went there, it has become all out climate advocacy, and science in service of the UNIPCC agenda. The best rebuttal came from Georgia Ede MD writing in Psychology Today EAT-Lancet’s Plant-based Planet: 10 Things You Need to Know.
    My synopsis:

    • Dr. Ede:
      “We all want to be healthy, and we need a sustainable way to feed ourselves without destroying our environment. The well-being of our planet and its people are clearly in jeopardy, therefore clear, science-based, responsible guidance about how we should move forward together is most welcome.

      Unfortunately, we are going to have to look elsewhere for solutions, because the report fails to provide us with the clarity, transparency and responsible representation of the facts we need to place our trust in its authors. Instead, the Commission’s arguments are vague, inconsistent, unscientific, and downplay the serious risks to life and health posed by vegan diets.”

    • The beat goes on…
      Report: NY University Gender Studies Department Publishes Paper Saying Milking Cows Is Like Sexual Abuse

      The paper, “Readying the Rape Rack: Feminism and the Exploitation of Non-Human Reproductive Systems,” was included in Dissenting Voices, published and edited by the Women’s and Gender Studies program at the College at Brockport State University of New York.

      NYT: Lawns are Symbols of Racism and Bad for Global Warming

  26. On Food Justice … my hearty congratulations, and envy, to Ms Finn for apparently having never suffered from constipation. Oh well, some just have all the luck. She had some interesting points. But was it just me, or was her attack on the Whole Foods foo-foo elites for Food Justice just a bit hard left Social Justice comeuppance? Almost like the herd-master rounding up strays.

    • Ireneusz Palmowski

      For constipation, I suggest pure aloe juice.

    • Lucky you. I waded through the first quarter of the muddled paper, and I still don’t know what the author wants to tell me. For example, “These well-intentioned efforts ostensibly give working people of color access to the same sorts of amenities that many upper-middle-class white people take for granted — fresh, locally grown produce, meat and eggs from pastured pigs and chickens, and the opportunity to ask whether organic-approved pesticides are actually worse for beneficial insects than synthetics. Or whatever else they like to make small talk with farmers about. However, it’s not clear what concept of justice any of it actually serves.”

      Why does she assume that “working people of color” will be on food stamps? How about non-working white people?

  27. Pingback: Local weather Trade and Land: dialogue thread – All My Daily News


    A subject near and dear to my heart: nutrition, and not mentioned, growth.

    Somehow, people who advocate for a vegetarian diet skipped the notion that the human organism is continually evolving. That diet ingredients have specific outcomes beginning prior to a woman becoming pregnant. The impact of both nutrition and psychological health influences the fetus and subsequent infant and child development. There is a legion of literature outlining when there is maternal nutritional and emotional “dis-ease” and what the evolving child looks like, behaves, and is later on in life, capable of. Of course the child is resilient, however, at some cost.

    For the infant, breast is best. One should look at the composition of breast milk and make the appropriate assumption that its composition: high fat, protein and carbohydrate. Human breast milk does not necessarily contain the same ingredients from day one to day 365. Breast milk also changes when the feeding mother has nutritional issues or sickness herself. “Breast milk failure” becomes not only a personal issue but has a global impact as well.

    Moving past the first year of life, global food issues give stark illustration when certain diets, many times by necessity heavily weigh on plant based sources with limited or absent “meat”. Stunting of growth, there are about 5 billion people to assess including failure of brain growth are available to determine the consequences of a majority plant based diet. Not only are such diets have low caloric density, which means one needs lots and lots of such plant foods to achieve the calories needed, but the various nutrients found in meat are either absent or in such low quantities that their absence is felt by the developing child and subsequently person.

    Further on in life, we have learned that to forestall say, osteoporosis, humans need to get most of their calcium in before adolescence ends or subsequent supplementation is relatively ineffective. Then there are the specific nutritional needs for those who have become ill and have nutritional needs to recover. But that is a story for another time.

    It is hardly rocket science that the human body is constantly evolving and specific dietary needs arise with advancing age. So, advocating for a nutritionally deficient plant based diet for a life-time reflects profound willful ignorance latching onto elite urban myths that frankly are disastrous as world experiences have illustration throughout human history.

  29. I used to tell my vegetarian students that I respected their personal choices but I also wanted them to recognize that we can’t ALL be vegetarians. Much of earth’s ice free land surface is made up of forests, deserts, grasslands, and native shrubs that produce no food that can be directly consumed by humans. The only human food from these areas is meat produced by ruminant animals (cattle,sheep,goats,deer,bison,etc.) If all humans ate only plant foods the earth’s human carrying capacity would be much smaller than it is today. Convincing more people to be vegetarians is also a call for a smaller human population. None of my students were willing to personally reduce our human population.

  30. In case Mosh shall have a look… his “master” R. Rohde made a crazy tweet announcing the IPCC report on land change: .
    “…This is due to the lower heat capacity of the land.” what is nonsense. I hope Mosh can enlight RR… It’s a little bit embrassing when a leading climateer twitters such a mistake when the truth ( limited evaporation over land due to any warming) is well understood ( and often described) since decades!! One could think he often fails in some basics…

  31. George Monbiot: The IPCC and land report fails miserably

    Farmers frustrated by biased reporting on IPCC climate study. Farm leaders have accused national media of twisting the facts contained in a major climate change report in order to promote their own anti-meat agendas.

    Cannon to the left of them,
    Cannon to the right of them
    Volleyed and thundered.

    Germany, evidently giving great weight to opinions like Monbiot’s, has decided to increase the tax on meat. Will the proceeds be used to reforest the areas where the beef cattle are raised? Will the market figure out a work-around so that customers can eat beefy food without suffering the tax? Meat can always be relabeled “organically processed vegetable matter,” or “protein-enriched soybean and grass product.”

  32. More to the point is fostering living soils with symbiotic relationships between plants, fungi and other organisms – where plants feed fungi sunlight derived sugars and fungi create micro environment where macro and micro nutrient are mobilized from the parent soil material.

    “The urgent restoration of degraded forests and landscapes in drylands is essential if the global community is to meet the challenges posed by desertification, food insecurity, climate change and biodiversity loss, among other negative trends.” FAO

    Reversing soil carbon loss is a new green revolution where conventional agriculture is hitting a productivity barrier with exhausted soils and increasingly expensive inputs. Fixing this needs science and farming. Here’s a farmer perspective.

    Here’s science. Most of the world thinks that CO2 mitigation is a good idea. This is one way that is central to building prosperous and resilient communities in vibrant landscapes this century.

  33. Because I get depressed reading the US and EU news these days, I usually start my day with the Times of India and a number of other “developing world” news organizations

    I find that it is far more optimistic, entertaining – and the reporters actually link to raw data more frequently than US/EU reporters

    Through my wanderings I found this – relevant to the land use/food topic

    This NASA article seems to say that the poorest, lowest income, and hungriest people in the world have already increased the leaf growth density of land just by improving their daily lives.

    No experts needed.

    No trillion-dollar programs

    Just the constrant entrepreneurial forces of 7 billion humans improving life for all (see gap

    Subtext in the NASA article also suggests what real scientists have known for centuries.

    Science is so good it proves itself partly wrong every day.

    Experiments work better than dictates.

    I was trained in understanding large ecosystems by Toyota and Honda – who have their workers and managers constantly visit “the Gemba” – the real world – and apply MANAGEMENT SCIENCE measures to constant organizational improvement.

    Think about this.

    The front pages of the Times of India today link to more global human innovation than any of the US and European news sources do.

    I found the NASA land research sprinkled in with Bollywood hero stories

    What if our science developed a sense of humor, and humility – and visited these places in Inda and China cited in the NASA study?

    I’m just sayin’…

    • “No trillion-dollar programs. Just the constrant entrepreneurial forces of 7 billion humans improving life for all.”

      That economic prosperity- from market capitalism – is also going to do more to reduce birthrates and pollution.

      Developing countries are more optimistic because the UN wants them to burn all the coal and oil they can get their hands on, while limiting those fuels in developed nations- thereby moving manufacturing and other global economic activity to India, China, et al. Who wouldn’t want a rich person to give them all their money?
      The global climate policies have no impact on CO2 emissions except to increase them, of course, which is why a growing number of people are concluding that global climate policies have nothing to do with climate.

    • Marty Anderson, thank you for the link.

      Caption to figure 1.
      Over the last two decades, the Earth has seen an increase in foliage around the planet, measured in average leaf area per year on plants and trees. Data from NASA satellites shows that China and India are leading the increase in greening on land. The effect stems mainly from ambitious tree planting programs in China and intensive agriculture in both countries.
      Credits: NASA Earth Observatory

      Those ambitious tree planting programs are hardly: No experts needed.

      No trillion-dollar programs

      Just the constrant entrepreneurial forces of 7 billion humans improving life for all (see gap

      Except that the investments were not in the $trillions.

      Note also that the graph displays % increases in countries that have experienced serious deforestation (private as well as govt projects like China’s Great Leap Forward). In India, private enterprise was distinctly on the deforestation side.

      In the US reforestation was partly a result of efforts by the large wood/paper products industries, and partly a result of natural processes on abandoned land, and partly a result of govt interventions like the New England watershed project.

      • Marty Anderson


        Couple of comments. India’s citizens may be poor but they ae very sophisticated in farming, because their lives depend on it. They have seed banks, and other forms of bottom-up real-world applied science. They know the seasons. They are skilled in real world genetics of agriculture.

        The efforts to increase productivity were by no means all about central “experts” in the IPCC vein. This is local innovation of the kind that happens among the poorest 2 billion in the world all the time.

        Note that all these locals are wired to the world, and they are conversing with others all the time as they experiment.

        By 2004 India had the largest self-organized Unix/Linux user groups in the world, which is why the country and their expats have built a global technology services industry at home and among diaspora.

        The important improvements in this article are bottom-up, not expert down,.

        As for the “trillion dollar” reference, I was unclear.

        I meant that the IPCC and derivative recommendations for massive industrial change – are clearly going to cost trillions of dollars, or the equivalent.

        There are low-cost kinds of street-level bottom-up innovation going on in China, BTW. The largest conversion to electric transportation is taking place in e-bikes, industrial vehicles, and other local distributed transportation user-innovation

        The IPCC style strategy seems to argue that 7 billion people should wait until wealthy experts reach consensus, before trying to improve the local environments of the several billion low income citizens of Earth..

        This one article on planting efficiency is just a tiny window into the massive waves of innovation taking place among the poorest populations of the World.

      • Marty Anderson: The efforts to increase productivity were by no means all about central “experts” in the IPCC vein. This is local innovation of the kind that happens among the poorest 2 billion in the world all the time.

        I did not say “all” central experts.

        The farmers you praise were largely responsible for the deforestation that preceded the present reforestation.

        I don’t think it’s really an either/or. And even some governmental interventions are local instead of national, driven by local citizens.

        In China there is plenty of government intervention, and it’s hard to tell what is accomplished by independent citizens. The flood control and irrigation systems are largely centrally designed, financed, and managed.

        I thank you for the link to the article, and for your comment.

  34. Traditionally land just responded to Nature and you ended up with the laissez faire outcomes based on weather, predator-prey hierarchies and game changing events like earhquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, sunspot minima etc.

    Very recently, humans have been trying to change that reality. We actually have quite a lot of capabilities to shape outcomes differently now.

    1. We can alter water retention scenarios, which can promote greening if desired, can affect groundwater recharge etc.
    2. We can create pastures and meadows, orchards and growing fields, forests and woodland, wetlands and lakes, not to mention urban sprawl and communication arteries across rural areas.
    3. We can alter soil ecologies either intentionally or unintentionally using fertilisers.
    4. We can scar landscapes through mining, poison rivers through effluent and discharge etc.

    Most arguments about land use are driven by lobbyists. Almost none result from popular mandate.

    We get the land use we allow lobbyists to impose upon us.

  35. There are tens of millions of acres world wide that are no good for growing anything but grass, are we to abandon that land and the food it supplies ?

  36. nothing on that?

    Was there ever any climate on “Planet A” which did not cause massive problems with food production?
    A few decades ago the dangerous cooling caused almost the same hysteria, NOAA “experts” claimed:

    BTW, who are those delegation people correcting so many words in the reports? Politicians? Scientists? Both?

  37. The global economy is worth about $100 trillion a year. To put aid and philanthropy into perspective – the total is 0.025% of the global economy. If spent on Copenhagen Consensus smart development goals such expenditure can generate a benefit to cost ratio of more than 15. If spent on the UN Sustainable Development Goals you may as well piss it up against a wall. Either way – it is nowhere near the major path to universal prosperity. Some 3.5 billion people make less than $2 a day. Changing that can only be done by doubling and tripling global production – and doing it as quickly as possible. Optimal economic growth is essential and that requires an understanding and implementation of explicit principles for effective economic governance of free markets.

    Markets exist – ideally – in a democratic context. Politics provides a legislative framework for consumer protection, worker and public safety, environmental conservation and a host of other things. Including for regulation of markets – banking capital requirements, anti-monopoly laws, prohibition of insider trading, laws on corporate transparency and probity, tax laws, managing an inflation target by buying and selling on the overnight cash market, etc. A key to stable markets – and therefore growth – is fair and transparent regulation, minimal corruption and effective democratic oversight. Markets do best where government is large enough to be an important player and small enough not to squeeze the vitality out of capitalism – government revenue of some 25% of gross domestic product.


    Democrcacies can do whatever they like – but sticking to the Austrian school of economics rule book – and Scottish enlightenment freedoms – is the best way to efficiency, productivity and economic growth.

    Between government and individuals is the clan, collective, cooperative, etc, where global commons – catchments, fisheries, forestry – are best managed. It has its own rules – devised by Nobel Prize in Economics winner Elinor Ostrom.

    Design Principles for Collective Governance of the Commons – or how to avoid the tragedy of the commons

    1. Define clear group boundaries.
    2. Match rules governing use of common goods to local needs and conditions.
    3. Ensure that those affected by the rules can participate in modifying the rules.
    4. Make sure the rule-making rights of community members are respected by outside authorities.
    5. Develop a system, carried out by community members, for monitoring members’ behavior.
    6. Use graduated sanctions for rule violators.
    7. Provide accessible, low-cost means for dispute resolution.
    8. Build responsibility for governing the common resource in nested tiers from the lowest level up to the entire interconnected system.

    A new analysis if so inclined –

    Iriai is a Japanese word meaning to enter into the joint use of resources. There are ways to a bright future for the planet, its peoples and its wild places – but these need to be consciously designed in a broad context of economics and democracy, population, development, technical innovation, land use and the environment.

    • Robert – good comment

      But the real innovation in the world is happening among the poorest several billion,

      The old “trickle down” concepts have been turned on their heads by the the mobile revolution among other things.

      By the early 2000’s more than 90% of the world’s population either had a mobile phone, or had access to them. See Grameen phone for an example of this at scale. See Roshan.

      Phones sold new in US/EU were sold used 2-3 years later for $2-$3 to the poorest people in the world, They accessed the world on wi-fi and shared cell lines.

      Guest workers were transferring electronic money (Hawala) from contract jobs in Europe and Middle East – to their families back in Asia and then Africa..

      Text-based banking started in Africa years before it started in the US

      So what?

      The kind of local farming innovation mentioned in the NASA article is one of the many effects of the “global university of Youtube” in which the poorest people in the world are developing amazing things,.

      See again to understand that the poor are not sitting around waiting for money from the US/EU – they are building completely new industries themselves – on high tech networks.

      India was late to the mobile party, but when they caught on they were selling 26 million new phones per MONTH at all economic levels.

      Wealthy-world citizens still feel we are the key to developing the poorest regions of the world, and helping them improve the environment

      They are far ahead of us in many areas of practical science, and definitely ahead of us in applied economics.

      That’s why waiting for IPCC style consensus among the richest people in the world is less effective than the entrepreneurial self-motivation and learning of those who are really suffering daily.

      The wiring of the world has made obsolete many, if not most, of the economic and academic assumptions of the US/EU.

    • Robert – I’m not good at navigating the comments hierarchy here, so this comment is related to your references to “rules” and “markets” below….or maybe they will be “above” when I hit Enter.

      (I have always enjoyed your comments BTW)

      On “rules”….

      It has always been true that for any human (or genomic) system, the part of the network managed by “rules” is extremely small.

      Well under 30% of the transactions in any network.

      Often less than 10% of total transactions in a network.

      Most transactions in any network are created by “users” or “participants”, quickly, ad hoc – depending on the circumstances faced by the participants at any moment in time.

      See drivers at four way stop sign intersections.

      Watch at crowded public building doorway to see who holds the door open for whom? Etc

      The “command” network has rules for stop signs. But almost all the network execution is ad hoc “emergent” behavior based on complex visual and social cues communicated by driver eye contact, slight motion of vehicle, etc

      Before 1990 it was very hard to measure how much of a transaction set (stop sign behavior) was “command” (rules) or “emergent” (determined by network participants in seconds based on situation at that second).

      Before the recent computation and instrumentation revolution of the past 25 years, people could not see these network principles at work.

      Today, with 7 billion geo-located mobile devices deployed worldwide, we can see – exactly – what proportion of human behavior is “command” (obey rules) versus “emergent” (responsive to local real-time conditions).

      This is what Google sees every millisecond.

      “Command” behavior is perhaps 5% of total recorded human activity. See “tails” of Google Search for data.

      So, we can now quantify that “markets” do not follow “rules” in any manner similar to the diagrams you provide.

      Rules – even simple ones like “stop sign” – control perhaps 5% of network transactions.

      Most “markets” worldwide are now tracked electronically and it is very clear that old definitions like “free market”, “Communist”, etc have very little meaning.

      See Hong Kong airport right now for “communist rules” and emergence.

      So what?

      Farmers in India cannot be classified as either “rule based” or “anarchic” …

      ….they are just using the constantly changing, real-time adaptation of dynamic networks to constant local learning.

      The land use patterns in India are not the “fault” of anyone. They are not “centrally managed” by anyone.

      They are constantly self-adjusting “swarm behaviors” balancing dynamic forces that change all the time.

      We need new labels and understanding for things like “climate change remediation”

      The main import of the Indian example is that if fewer than 10,000 “expert” people try to create “climate rules” or “network systems” to control the behavior of 7 billion other humans – that is mathematically “absurd” and “non-sensical” – given what we can now document about global real-time behavior.

      The key is bottom-up “entrepreneurship of all kinds” (not “social” versus “commercial” entrepreneurship…not “capitalist” versus “communist”)

      Thus – environmental remediation is all about – how to follow the true innovators on the “fields of action” in places like India – where farmers innovate in real time?

      Why worry about what they did in the past?

      What they are doing right now is far more important.

      BTW – as I write this, my colleague is on the phone with someone in the US who was supposed to connect through Hong Kong this evening, but is now having to fly through Beijing, and he was making these arrangements online, WHILE talking on mobile phone to my colleague.

      These ad hoc, unforecastable global transactions are taking place across many borders, in minutes….between several people who are multi-tasking simultaneously.

      “Rules” just ain’t what they used to be.

      The IPCC style central command strategies do not comprehend this – and the Indian farmers may understand things much better and seem to be beating the experts to climate innovation by years,

      With respect – Marty

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