Enough data has been gathered by now to convincingly make the case that mankind is hurtling down the path of self-harm, approaching milestones of environmental ruin at increasing speed. This year, the world shot past the whole year’s worth of supplies on July 29, having gobbled up nature’s resources at 1.75 times faster than they can be replenished. July, incidentally, was the hottest month since record keeping began. And this year is on track to be one of the warmest ever. Week after week, headlines testify to the devastation unleashed by climate change, attributed to global warming. Heatwaves, droughts, floods and storms hit at increasing intensity, frequency and duration.
In order to limit global warming to 1.5 deg C above pre-industrial levels – the minimum needed to stave off ecological disaster – the United Nations last October pointed out that the world must halve emissions by 2030, reach net-zero emissions by 2050, and thereafter become carbon-negative. Key to hitting these targets will be reducing emissions from land use, said a report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last week. More than 70 per cent of the globe’s ice-free land is directly affected by human use. And up to a third of all land has been used to produce food, livestock feed, fibre, timber and energy, resulting in the loss of half of the planet’s tree cover since the dawn of civilisation.