IPCC Special Report on climate change and land

On 8th August 2019 the IPCC’s land report was published. The report brings together the most knowledgeable experts and the most reliable science to explore the interlinkages between climate change and land usage.

The ‘Sydney Morning Heritage’ article ‘Warning flag’: IPCC finds rapid land warming threatens food security on 8th August 2019, speaks of the particular effects in Australia of warming land and seas.

There are many climate change issues which are impacting and will increasingly impact heritage places and which we, as heritage practitioners, will need to plan for and take action to mitigate these impacts in Australia and around the world.

Our governments, companies and individuals have been too slow to act. Sometimes this has been because the issue appears too big to handle, so like ostriches we put our heads in the sand to ignore the threat around us. It does not help that the debate on climate change is often falsely framed in the media and parliament as an argument between science and belief, or between sceptics and believers, as discussed in Is Climate Change a Laughing Matter?

As outlined in the In-depth Q&A: The IPCC’s special report on climate change and land, the full title of the latest IPCC report lists the issues it covers, including ‘climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems’. It identifies three processes in which climate change is the “dominant global or regional pressure”. These are: “coastal erosion as affected by sea level rise and increased storm frequency/intensity,  permafrost thawing responding to warming, and increased burning[of wildfires] responding to warming and altered precipitation regimes”.

A second IPCC report this year is due to be published in September 2019 – on oceans and the cryosphere. The IPCC also published a special report on 1.5C of warming in October 2018.

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