“Earth's land has already warmed more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since t...“Earth's land has already warmed more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since the industrial revolution, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That's the same amount of warming that climate activists are hoping to prevent on a global scale,” The Atlantic reports.

Here are seven ways of understanding the IPCC’s newest climate warning.

4. In some ways, this is the most unavoidably political document that the IPCC has ever published. Its report last year, on the dangers of global warming beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius, called for an unprecedented transformation in the globe’s energy system. It demanded a rapid switch to carbon-free energy systems. But talking about the energy system is, in this context, relatively easy. No one’s ever gone to war over electric cars or renewable portfolio standards. But land is different. It is home, and the possibility of home. The relationship between people and land is the most treasured and unresolved idea in global politics. As the IPCC says, 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.” Another authority put it like this: “Cursed is the ground for thy sake … By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken.” Chemically speaking, of course, we are mostly water. But everything we love about ourselves is solid, and therefore made of land.

COA Global Environmental Politics Professor Doreen Stabinsky.COA Global Environmental Politics Professor Doreen Stabinsky. Credit: Sara Lӧwgren ’20Accordingly, everyone has opinions about it. Somewhat notoriously in climate circles, the final summary of every IPCC report is written by the world’s worst committee process. Over a marathon five days, the lead scientific authors sit at the front of a room and painstakingly read every line of the document to every national delegation that cares to attend. At any time, any delegation can more or less raise any issue with any word, and before the report can be published, every country’s delegation must acquiesce to it in full. Historically, oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia use this process to raise one concern after another, bogging down the proceedings and effectively excising the strongest language from the final document.

But the process this time, which took place in Geneva, unfolded differently. The world’s developing countries might normally raise a few issues with the IPCC’s initial proposed language. For this report, they asked for changes to line after line, according to Doreen Stabinsky, an environmental-politics professor at the College of the Atlantic who observed the talks.

“A lot of countries want to make sure that they see themselves, and their specific interests and issues, in every single paragraph,” she told me this week. “Land is something that’s so local…

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