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Earth Science

More Than 75 Percent of Earth's Land Areas Are 'Broken,' Major Report Finds (vice.com) 145

Like a broken cell phone that can only text or take pictures, but not make a single call, more than 75 percent of the Earth's land areas have lost some or most of their functions, undermining the well-being of the 3.2 billion people that rely on them to produce food crops, provide clean water, control flooding and more. From a report: These once-productive lands have either become deserts, are polluted, or have been deforested and converted for unsustainable agricultural production. This is a major contributor to increased conflict and mass human migration, and left unchecked, could force as many as 700 million to migrate by 2050, according to the world's first comprehensive evidence-based assessment of land degradation, released today in MedellÃn, Colombia.

Land degradation -- including deforestation, soil erosion, and salinity and pollution of fresh water systems -- is also driving species to extinction and aggravating the effects of climate change, the report concludes. It was written by more than 100 leading experts from 45 countries for the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). IPBES is the 'IPCC for biodiversity,' a scientific assessment of the status of non-human life that makes up the Earth's life support system.

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More Than 75 Percent of Earth's Land Areas Are 'Broken,' Major Report Finds

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  • Can we please stop saying that anything that has any type of problem is "broken?"

    • I'm still puzzled as to why the poster would use an analogy between a "broken" cell phone and pollution/deforestation.
      • What TFS is saying is that 75% of all cars leak oil, have less than perfect emissions, or other problems up to and including sitting on blocks in somebodies front yard. What TFA apparently is really saying, is that 25% of all cars are sitting unused on new car lots.
      • Mushrooms. Or acid. Mescaline and some ergotamine too. Good reasons for a brain fucked-up enough to come up with an analogy like that.
    • by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Monday March 26, 2018 @05:33PM (#56330295)

      Well, if the land is no longer capable of supporting plants and animals, it is broken; it doesn't work; doesn't perform its desired function.
      Sometimes it can be fixed. Other times not so much.

      • by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Monday March 26, 2018 @07:42PM (#56330967) Journal
        Note that they consider land that was changed to forest to farmland as "broken". I guess changing land to feed more people is a bad thing? Back to hunter-gatherers for all! Oops, we can't hunt, that's cruel and inhumane, so just gatherers from here on out...
      • Simpleton much?
    • Its worse than that.

      They are classifying ANYTHING as broken.
      They classify natural deserts as broken.
      They classify natural mountains as broken
      They classify ALL human farming (no matter how productive for how long) as broken.

      As far as I can tell, its pretty much only natural untouched forests and jungle they consider to be not broken.

      Interesting worldview, that..
      Someone got a bit caught up in trying to rationalise a stupid-high number.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        They classify natural deserts as broken.

        They classify natural mountains as broken

        Your reading comprehension is poor... they list those making up much of the area NOT "broken". From TFA:

        The only places left relatively unaffected will be polar regions and tundra, high mountains, and deserts, the report projects.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Monday March 26, 2018 @05:03PM (#56330081)

    There is no way you can really claim 75% of the Earth's land mass is "broken". That is insane, it would imply the world was starving and farms everywhere were no longer viable.

    I'm imagining they reached this conclusion after declaring any bit of land they could find a candy wrapper or wandering plastic bag as "polluted".

    But then it is the "IPCC for biodiversity", so that really says it all as far as how much stock you can place in the report.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This type of fear-mongering is not helping anyone out. Too much wolf crying, and people won't believe, nor care, when something that actually has an impact is happening. Had we had this much noise back in the '80s, nobody would have bothered banning CFCs, just because people would consider the ozone hole as something that was something impossible to do anything about.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Of course the article does not "claim 75% of the Earth's land mass is "broken", that is the sensationalist summary. The article says that 75% of the land has lost at least one of its functions. In the countries I live in or have visited recently (UK, Canada, India, Spain), it is pretty clear that often approaching 100% of the land has lost at least one of its functions. That includes almost any land that is urban and agricultural, e.g. where pesticides, ploughing or burning is involved, or land where water
      • by slew ( 2918 )

        The article says that 75% of the land has lost at least one of its functions.

        No, the report doesn't even say that. It says...

        Less than 25% of the Earth’s land surface has escaped substantial impacts of human activity.

        The metric they are using is biodiversity and the assessment technique they are using estimates that most of the forcing function for a reduction in bio-diversity is human related climate change since the beginning of human existance (not actually direct human intervention) which is how they can presume impact for areas where humans have never visited (and get to 75%-90%)....

        Consequently, if your metric is not biodiversity, or if your threshold is not "escape

        • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

          "Oh dear! 75% of the land surface isn't actually arable, or even habitable. Humans must have ruined it!"

          I note that people who make these broad proclamations *never* have any sense of the scale of the planet. They see a hobby farm and think that's all of agriculture.

    • The actual report states "land degradation now critical". Nowhere in the actual report does it use the term "broken". The writer at MOTHERBOARD.COM, Stephen Leahy used the word "broken" in his headline. Nor is there any asinine comparison to 3.2 billion people to cell phone use in the report.
      https://www.ipbes.net/news/med... [ipbes.net]
    • by haruchai ( 17472 )

      Neither 75% nor "broken" appears in the media release
      It says
      "Media Release: Worsening Worldwide Land Degradation Now ‘Critical’, Undermining Well-Being of 3.2 Billion People"

        "Less than 25% of the Earth’s land surface has escaped substantial impacts of human activity – and by 2050, the IPBES experts estimate this will have fallen to less than 10%"

      That's not remotely the same as what the Slashdot headline says

  • by Icegryphon ( 715550 ) on Monday March 26, 2018 @05:06PM (#56330103)

    It's the end of the world yet again?

  • > "The UN-backed report underscores the urgent need for consumers, companies and governments to rein in excessive consumption – particularly of beef – and for farmers to draw back from conversions of forests and wetlands, according to the authors."

    Land degradation threatens human wellbeing, major report warns
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/26/land-degradation-is-undermining-human-wellbeing-un-report-warns

    • Leave my fucking bovine alone!~!! Total assholes. If I can't obtain cheap, subsidized beef I don't even want to live.

    • by sycodon ( 149926 )

      It always comes down to them wanting us in be living in caves, scratching for berries and leaves.

  • by clovis ( 4684 ) on Monday March 26, 2018 @05:24PM (#56330207)

    Like a broken cell phone that can only text or take pictures, but not make a single call, more than 75 percent of the Earth's land areas have lost some or most of their functions, undermining the well-being of the 3.2 billion people that rely on them to produce food crops, provide clean water, control flooding and more.

    As far as I'm concerned, if it's not like a broken car, then it doesn't matter.

    • As far as I'm concerned, if it's not like a broken car, then it doesn't matter.

      You must be a Gen Xer.
      As a millennial you can have my car, just don't take my mobile internet connection.

      • by clovis ( 4684 )

        Good guess, but clovis was born near the beginning of the baby boomer era.
        This is what our phone looked like when I was a kid.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
        We didn't use phone analogies because these things almost never broke. I never saw a broken one, but I suppose it could happen.
        If one did break, it was probably because a car had run over it. Or a car had knocked down the telephone pole that carried the wires.
        Lightning could strike the house, but that phone would still work. It might have killed you i

        • Wow there. Didn't want to start anything, just going for a funny myself. Personally I'm not actually a millennial either. :-)

          And I remember those phones. What really sucked was dialing my grandma internationally. I could call friends faster than I could punch out the 0011 international transfer number. That damn wheel took so long to click back. *shudder* It didn't help her number had a few more 0s in it.

          Side note have you taken apart one of those phones before? There was nothing in them to break. They were

  • Well, common sense says this is bollocks.

    This https://www.umweltbundesamt.de... [umweltbundesamt.de] is a picture about the usage of area in Germany. Germany is a very densely populated country.

    Blue is water, yellow is mining etc. in between settlements and traffic/streets/rails.

    Dark green, about 30% woods. 50% light green is agriculture. Those two numbers are misleading as a wood has pretty special restrictions to be counted as a wood. So I would estimate it is more likely 40% woods and 40% agriculture, by a layman definition.

  • Like a broken cell phone that can only text or take pictures, but not make a single call, ...

    You can make phone calls with a cell phone? And... talk... to people...?

  • What, you thought we weren't being attacked?

  • wouldn't we then be a virus?
  • Will be self correcting.
  • Ask him: If you fell off the edge of a flat Earth, to where do you fall? Ask him: If i fly a plane East in a straight line, will i be lost forever when i fly off the edge of the Earth, or will i eventually return right where i started, but from the West? Ask him: Are other planets flat? Like the moon, for example? Ask him: Why doesn't the ocean spill off? Ask him: What's underneath, on the other flat side? i'd love to hear his responses...
    • OOPS. Posted on the wrong story :-) ...Slashdot doesn't let us edit or delete. "It's in our backyard... it's in our front yard. Pollution and contamination are shortening all life. We're going to have to unite as a people and say 'no more'! We, the people, are going to have to put our thoughts together to save our planet here. We only have one water... one air... one Mother Earth." - Corbin Harney

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