There is nothing even remotely resembling collapse of civilization in the IPBES or IPCC reports. So why do so many people say that’s what they are about?

I think it may be at least partly a misunderstanding of what the IPCC mean by “transformative change”, a misunderstanding which sadly is promoted in many articles in the mainstream media. If anyone says this, they haven't read the reports themselves, or at least not carefully.

The IPCC’s “transformative change” is not a collapse. Nor is it austerity. It’s positive, it’s growth in everything we value.

I know of only one major thorough high level review that combines climate science with the social sciences to study this transformative change on the social level. That’s, the IPBES study in 2019 with a team of 145 experts, and 350 contributing authors, 32% of them social scientists and 87 lead authors.

IPBES found that the Global Sustainable Development path increases all indicators of good quality of life, material and non material relative to today. This is one of their graphics, which I’ve annotated:

Transformative change maximizes good quality of life with GROWTH, material, non material and economic - IPCC and IPBES

Graphic from the appendix to chapter 4 of the IPBES report in 2019

That is what the reports actually say if you read them instead of listen to the click bait doomist journalists and junk scientists.

Nor do the reports say that we need to have negative GDP or head for an economic depression. They say we need economic growth - but of the right kind, growth as a means for good quality of life which is the real end we aim for.

Short video for this article

(click to watch on Youtube)

Longer video for this article:

(click to watch on Youtube)

Note, since I did that video the aviation industry have increased their target to zero carbon aviation by 2050. Details in my . Rising to the challenge of zero emissions aviation

I originally posted this article in my Quora blog. You can see the original version here.

This another article I'm writing to support people we help in the Facebook Doomsday Debunked group, that find us because they get scared, sometimes to the point of feeling suicidal about it, by such stories.

Do share this with your friends if you find it useful, as they may be panicking too.


Neither IPBES or the IPCC say we need to stop consumerism. It's about changing things not stopping them. We ourselves can use our power as consumers, to direct where industry goes and how goods are manufactured.

Debra Roberts for the 2018 IPCC report on how we can each do something - about the choices we make in our lives:

(click to watch on Youtube)

The report talks about four transitions the word has to through in terms of energy, land, cities, and industry.

We need transitions in

  • energy
  • land
  • cities
  • industry

And that’s a really empowering message because it means that each one of us as individuals can make choices about the energy we use to move through our lives, about dietary choices that impact on land use. It tells us that each of us can change the way we interact with the world’s cities, through the transport we choose to go to work and to play, It also talks to us that we have power as consumers, in terms of directing where industry goes, and goods are manufactured. So overall, a real call to action

It is a really empowering message because we can all make choices about

  • the energy we use
  • how our diet impacts on land use
  • Our choice of transport
  • our choices as consumers about what we buy - and how goods are manufactured.

How many of the mainstream news stories reported it like this, in 2018, as a really empowering message that we all have power as consumers to change this? As far as I know, none.

You can listen to some of the IPCC co-chairs here interviewed after the report. I also listened to the press briefing too which was widely misreported.

My positive more upbeat report on it is here:

See for instance my

. Simple lifestyle changes to help reduce global warming and biodiversity loss


Then there’s the IPBES report. This is the one that was reported widely as saying that a million species are threatened with extinction (real message was that we can save a million species and know how to do it).

Few will remember anything from those stories except that million species figure. Again this report says that we are all empowered by the life decisions we make.

This was a very innovative report - unlike the IPCC, the IPBES report looked at the politics and economics and sociology of how to change.

The IPCC focuses mainly on the climate science. It does look at actions we can do. But it doesn’t go into the nitty-gritty of policy decisions that governments, communities and individuals need to make.

IPBES did do that, they looked at how we can achieve this transformative change, based on the psychology and sociology of how people behave, how our societies work.

As far as I know it is the only big report to involve nearly as many of the social sciences, including economics, political scientists etc as the physical sciences such as climate scientists and experts on conservation of species (which was its main focus).

32% were social sciences, and 8% were interdisciplinary.

It deserved far more attention than it got. Sadly the attention it got was mainly negative “we are doomed, we will lose a million species and there is nothing we can do about it” type messages - and sadly many of the articles about it included a lot of elaborations and inventions by journalists that had very little to do with the actual original report. I am not talking about obscure blog posts here, but mainstream media.

IPBES affirmed that we have a biodiverse rich world as a birthright and that we should assert that right. As professor Diaz put it in the IPBES press conference:

I would say that as a citizen, you have to claim your birthright to have a fulfilling life deeply connected with the fabric of life which is healthy and in working order. That's not a luxury, that's everyone's birthright.

. IPBES cochairs and press conference with transcripts

This is one of the authors of the IPBES report:

(click to watch on Youtube)

As usual will add my short summaries that may be especially useful for autistic readers

What the the Global Assessment represents for me and what I find it really cool and unique is that it tells a story. It's not only assessing different pieces of nature. It's pouring that into a historical perspective

The IPBES report looked at the historical perspective for biodiversity loss

We look back 50 years we understand the trajectories of development. We understand the displacement of economic growth in different parts of the world. We look back during the past decades, we understand what we've been doing what will have been the advances and the setbacks that we have and we look forward in a reflexive way if we continue to do business as usual we know the consequence.

The report looks at previous advances and setbacks

If we continue in the same way as before we know what will happen.

But it also shows that there are options we can take to shift.

However the report also shows that we have other options to shift direction in the future

I think one of the most important things that we could do, and I hope will be the impact of the global assessment, is to reverse the perverse narrative that environmental degradation, social inequality are in a inevitable outcomes of economic growth. We need to change that narrative we need to make economic growth as a means not an end. Quality of life is the end we all want.

Up to now people have said that

  • economic growth inevitably leads to
  • environmental degradation and social inequality

We need to change this story.

We need to make

  • Economic growth as the means not the end
  • Quality of life as the end we all want

There is hope. We need to build on the efforts that are there we need to build on the knowledge that we have to be able to revert those changes. People need to feel empowered. Policymakers need to view empower everyone contributes it. We have the tools to implement policy to make a difference on people's lives and a difference on the global environment"

We need to build on the knowledge we now have to revert these changes.

We have the tools to make the policies and to make a difference to people’s lives and the global environment.


This is a common misunderstanding. This transformative change doesn’t mean some new global political system or economic or social system. Rather it is a new approach that encourages diversity and a variety of methods and solutions at all levels.

The IPCC didn't say much about what transformative change means in 2018 but the IPBES report in 2019 with its huge complement of social scientists went into great detail based on a scientific investigation of the sociology involved.

Here I am paraphrasing D4 and D5 of the summary for policy makers for IPBES.

For instance, the transformations will work differently in developing and developed countries. Any transformation like that has its uncertainties and complexities, but the risks can be reduced through approaches from government that are “integrative, informed and adaptive”.

It needs to be based on

  • recognizing that different cultures have different values, economic conditions, power imbalances and vested interests. It
  • learning from experience,
  • a combination of precautionary measures and using existing and emerging knowledge.
  • Private - public partnerships are an important part of it too.

Also a key to all this is involving and empowering local people

  • to recognize the knowledge, innovations, and practices, institutions and values of indigenous people and local communities.
  • to recognize land tenure of local people, free, prior and informed consent for access and resource rights, and improved collaboration including equitable sharing of benefits and co-management where local people are involved in management of their resources.

For an overview summary of the approaches for sustainability and the actions and pathways that can achieve them, see their Table SPM.1 “Possible actions and pathways to achieve transformative change” in the IPBES summary for policy makers.

What IPCC and IPBES mean by transformative change

Embracing diversity

Finding local solutions

Recognizing and enabling the expression of different value systems and diverse interests while formulating and implementing policies and actions

Notice how central to this table is recognizing and enabling the expression of many value systems and diverse interests:

This is just the start of their table SPM.1. It runs on for many pages in the IPBES summary for policy makers.

It does NOT say that we have to transform society to fit some particular straightjacket approach - it’s about embracing diversity and finding local solutions to problems.


We need growth. Negative economic growth means that we stop producing things, people top buying them, prices go down, so you can't sell things, so businesses fold up, nobody is getting any income, this leads to less produced, less demand, the end result is nobody is making anything, and we are in the depths of a Great Depression.

That is not going to solve our problems. Negative growth isn't a solution.

The IPBES report which unlike the IPCC had large numbers of economists and sociologists involved in writing it does NOT say we need to change economics and aim for negative growth. It says we need the right kind of growth. We need to make economic growth a means not an end. Quality of life is the end, growth is the means to achieve it.

Negative growth would be to stop any projects regenerating deserts or designing and developing new electric cars, or better batteries or lower cost renewables.

Negative economic growth is self destructive. E.g. to get out of the recession and "build back better" we need growth right now.

For instance the African Great Green Wall project received $14.32 billion in pledges from donors to reverse desertification in sub Saharan Africa.

. New Funding Fortifies Africa’s Great Green Wall - Eos

That will be a huge boost in sub Saharan Africa - agriculture, food, trees, grazing etc.

That's economic growth. Growth is how we solve our problems.

But it needs to be the right kind of growth.


This isn’t from the reports. But I think it’s a good example to show how quickly things can change. It was a major transformative change but it wasn’t achieved by using a new political system or economic system.

In 1900 just about everyone drove around in horse-drawn carriages. By 1913 nearly everyone in New York was already driving around in cars.

In the same way - the way we move around our cities, the way we go to work, the energy we use - all that could change in as little as a decade or two.

It’s not a collapse of civilization, the old way of doing things has gone - but we are now doing things in a new way.

1900 - spot the car

IPCC and IPBES talk about transformative change NOT collapse of civilization

Example of transformative change like we are going through today - 13 years later nearly all these people were driving cars - civilization didn't collapse.

Photo from here Fifth Avenue in New York City on Easter Sunday morning in 1900.

Original caption: “View showing horse drawn traffic of that period. Note only one auto in comparison with such a large amount of traffic. Comparison see 40-2152 46-767.”

1913 - spot the horse-drawn carriage

Transformative change - NOT collapse of civilization

This photo is from here 30 Incredible Photos of the Fifth Avenue, NYC Through the Years I can't find the second photo with only one horse-drawn carriage in the national archives.

You can explore old New York street photos here though I can't seem to find these particular photos. OldNYC


In the IPBES report chapter 4 about future scenarios, they look at good quality of life. Almud Arneth, coordinating lead author of the chapter about future scenarios, said:

"None of the scenarios we've been exploring would indicate that we cannot feed the world or cannot provide water cannot provide shelter that's for sure. But we can do it in a sustainable way or we can do it in an unsustainable way and that is really our choice."

. We can grow enough food for everyone through to 2100 and beyond on all scenarios

They look at four scenarios. The scenario with a coordinated effort on global sustainability has the greatest benefit on Good Quality of Life. Chapter 4 is here:

. Chapter 4. Plausible futures of nature, its contributions to people and their good quality of life

This is one of their graphics, Figure 4.4.1. As you see all their indicators of good quality of life improve with the sustainability scenarios.

This next graphic is from the appendix to chapter 4, presents the same data in another way, I've added a brief summary of four of the scenarios to the right. I've added a brief summary of four of the scenarios to the right.:

GQL = Good Quality of Life. + = improved.

Economic optimism: Decisions based on economy - environmental problems only solved if necessary for the economy

Regional competition: Focus on economy and security regionally with big gaps between rich and poor countries

Global Sustainable Development: Both policy makers and public prioritize sustainable production and consumption, technological change, environment protection and fighting climate change

Regional Sustainability: increased concern for environment influenced by environmentally aware citizens finding local and regional solutions

[not on graphic]Reformed markets: like Economic Optimism but with some regulation of quality of goods and to correct inequity.

These are all compatible with capitalism.

The scenarios are described in detail in Box 4, section 4.1.3 Archetype scenarios, page 613

Here they are in detail with my short summaries interleaved:

Economic Optimism. Global developments steered by economic growth result in a strong dominance of international markets with a low degree of regulation. Economic growth is assumed to coincide with low population growth due to a strong drop in fertility levels. Technology development is rapid and there is a partial convergence of income levels across the world. Environmental problems are only dealt with when solutions are of economic interest. The combination of a high economic growth with low population growth leads to high demands of commodities and luxury goods. These demands will however be unequally distributed among regions and within regions. Consequently, energy use and consumption are high. In addition, high technological development in combination with increased global market leads to high yields in agricultural and wood production on the most productive lands. Therefore, pollution and climate change will be relatively high, but land use relatively low. Direct exploitation will continue but also replaced by cultivation of for example fish and livestock. Global trade will increase the risks of invasive species

My summary: Economic optimism: Decisions based on economy - environmental problems only solved if necessary for the economy

Reformed Markets. Similar to the economic optimism scenario family but includes regulation and other policy assumptions to correct market failures with respect to social development, poverty alleviation or the environment. Thereby, relative to the economic optimism archetype, high demands for goods are expected to be more equally distributed and pollution will be lower.

My summary: Reformed markets: like Economic Optimism but with some regulation of quality of goods and to correct inequity.

Global Sustainable Development. A globalized world with an increasingly proactive attitude of policymakers and the public at large towards environmental issues and a high level of regulation. Important aspects on the road to sustainability are technological change, strong multi-level governance, behavioural change through education, and a relatively healthy economy. All variations of this archetype are beneficial for biodiversity. This scenario combines a low population growth with moderate economic development, and sustainable production and consumption. Low demands of especially luxury goods are expected, and a shift in diet towards less meat can be expected. Energy use will be low to moderate and fossil fuel use will be reduced, leading to low climate change and low land-use change. Due to environmental policies and sustainable production, pollution will be lower and direct harvesting will partly be replaced by cultivation. The global focus will increase the risk of invasive species

My summary: Global Sustainable Development: Both policy makers and public prioritize sustainable production and consumption, technological change, environment protection and fighting climate change

Regional Sustainability. A regionalized world based on an increased concern for environmental and social sustainability. International institutions decline in importance, with a shift toward local and regional decision-making, increasingly influenced by environmentally aware citizens, with a trend toward local self-reliance and stronger communities that focus on welfare, equality, and environmental protection through local solutions. The scenario combines a low economic growth with moderate population growth rates. The demands for goods are low and production focusses on sustainability with low levels of energy use or environmental degradation associated with higher importance for intrinsic and relational values of nature. Low rates of climate change are expected. Supply of agricultural products will be organised with regions with low levels of global trade. A slow technological development and a sub-optimal land use lead to relatively high rates of land-use change. Direct exploitation of natural systems will be within the carrying capacity of natural systems, and risks for invasive species will be relatively low

My summary: Regional Sustainability: increased concern for environment influenced by environmentally aware citizens finding local and regional solutions

Regional Competition. A regionalized world based on economic developments. The market mechanism fails, leading to a growing gap between rich and poor. In turn, this results in increasing problems with crime, violence and terrorism, which eventuates in strong trade and other barriers. The effects on the environment and biodiversity are mixed. Overall, there is a tendency towards increased security, which can either be positive (protect biodiversity) or negative (intensify agricultural production). Particularly in low-income countries, deforestation and loss of natural areas are a risk. In this scenario, due to a lack of global co-operation and trade, a high population growth is expected combined with low economic growth. Thereby, the demand for goods including agricultural products increases, but the demand for luxury, energy intensive goods is relatively low, and thus relatively low climate change is expected. Agricultural supply will be mainly within regions, which, combined with slow technological development, will result in lower productivity and high rate of land-use change. Direct exploitation will continue, low rates of replacement by cultivation are expected. The risk of invasive species will be lower than in the archetypes that focus on globalization. Business-As-Usual. Assumes that the future can be characterised by a continuation of historical trends, including the implementation of international agreements. Sometimes referred to as a reference scenario, or as a middle-of-the-road scenario. It can also be considered as a less extreme variant of the economic optimism archetype. Business-as-usual is characterized by moderate economic growth, moderate population growth and moderate globalization. Demands are not high nor low, and in combination with moderate technological development, environmental changes will also be moderate

My summary: Regional competition: Focus on economy and security regionally with big gaps between rich and poor countries

It shows what Almud Arneth means by "that is really our choice.". With the sustainable approaches they see improvements in ALL the indictors of good quality of life. With the more economy based approaches ignoring environmental effects except when they directly impact on the economy they see reductions in all except 5 of them.

In the scenarios with regional competition - where basically the Paris agreement and other international efforts fall apart - they see the biggest drops in Good Quality of Life.

But none of their scenarios are anything like collapse of civilization. Instead it is about inequity in quality of life, and the risk of pursuing material things in preference to quality of life and especially the effect on the "Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities" (IPLCs)

. Chapter 4. Plausible futures of nature, its contributions to people and their good quality of life

Entire report with links to the other chapters:

. Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

I think one of the most striking examples of this transformative change is the reversal of desertification. These are real photos, not photoshop and many projects like this are happening around the world.

Transformative change in 14 years

Growth in good quality of life, material, and non material

Economic growth

Real photos, not photoshop

See also my

. Sustainable continuing economic growth on a finite planet - how is that possible?


I’m writing this from the UK. Our right wing here is Libertarian Conservative, they believe in free market capitalism to solve many problems, but they recognize the need for regulation to achieve their goal of net Zero by 2050, and we have a lot of it.

Short video for this section:

(click to watch on Youtube)

E.g. already in 2012, when I built my house it had to comply with standards of insulation to reduce the heat loss in winter - and by 2025, all new homes must be carbon minimum homes that need very little heating in winter or cooling in summer, emissions reduced 75–80%.

Also anyone who builds an extension to a home has to bring the entire home up to standards and if you replace a new window, say, then it has to be a high U value well insulated window.

. Future Homes Standard: What Will it Mean for New and Existing Homes?

It’s a combination of grants and incentives, and regulation. The incentives will encourage us to install ground source heat pumps and solar panels on our roofs.

All this makes a big difference as 40% of UK’s emissions are from buildings and 14% of total UK emissions is from our homes. These regulations will reduce emissions for new homes by 75-80%.

In his ten point manifesto for the last election Boris Johnson committed to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, and hybrids by 2030.

. Our Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution

This is CarbonBrief' on the media reaction to the plan:

. Media reaction: Boris Johnson's ‘10-point’ net-zero plan for climate change

The UK has been reducing emissions while increasing GDP for a long time now.

Since 2010, UK emissions fell 29%, GDP rose nearly 20%

UK emissions now 4.5 tons per person per year - same as in 1853

continuing to fall

UK are at the same level of emissions as the global average

Last time the UK emissions were 4.5 tons per person per year

We sailed the sea in ships like this.

Frigate Madagascar lost to pirates in 1`853

Original caption: The frigate Madagascar left Melbourne for London in 1853 with more than 150 passengers and crew. She also had nearly three tons of gold on board – and was never seen again. Probably captured by pirates. Ship of Gold Sails Into Oblivion


. Analysis: UK’s CO2 emissions have fallen 29% over the past decade


. Analysis: UK is now halfway to meeting its ‘net-zero emissions’ target - Carbon Brief

This is just one example of how one Libertarian Conservative capitalist government is doing it.

The UK is a Social market economy. This is very different from socialism - it’s a regulated free market capitalist system with social policies and a welfare state.

Although Boris Johnson gets a lot of criticism about his green policy it is basically a workable policy to reach zero emissions by 2050. I am sure if Jeremy Corbyn had won the last election instead of Boris Johnson he’d have been criticised just as much for his plans for action on climate change - from the other side of the political spectrum.

Boris Johnson’s plans still needs some details made clear. However, it’s based on the advice of the Committee for Climate Change and so long as he continues to carry through on it, it should work and keep us on the path to net zero by 2050.

Their report is here:

. Sixth Carbon Budget - Climate Change Committee

Here in the UK elections, all the parties were vying to establish their green credentials with the general public.

I expect it will be the same in the USA by 2024 or at the latest 2028 as the young generation of Republicans grow up and become voters and politicians.

The US would need to use a different approach of course, Biden’s plan is one way. The Republicans if they get elected in 2024 or 2028 and also commit to climate change action may well have another way with different priorities.


I talk here about 12 simple lifestyle changes any of us can do. We are part of the solution, it's not just governments though they are important too.

And we don't have to stop buying things, or stop consuming things or stop traveling. It's a case of making choices and through those choices we can then help transform society.

. Simple lifestyle changes to help reduce global warming and biodiversity loss

When you feel depressed by all the doom and gloom from journalists and bloggers it may help to watch videos of some of the good things that are happening in the world.

I’ve complied a page of embedded videos for some of them here:

. Videos of good things that are happening in the world for climate change and biodiversity


There’s been a lot of media discussion, especially about a paper published in 2017 with a claim that the most effective climate action you can do at a personal level is to have one less child.

This was criticized for multiple accounting - it attributed CO2 emissions for children and even grandchildren to their parents, and it also assumed that we will never achieve carbon zero.

For instance Finland aims for zero emissions by 2035, and after that, to be carbon negative.

Short video for this section:

(click to watch on Youtube)

The UK, EU, South Korea, Japan, California and now the US in a statement of intent aim for zero emissions by 2050 and China,for 2060.

These pledges may increase. If your children, as they grow up, live in a carbon zero country, their emissions are zero, and if you are still alive, your emissions become zero also.

If they are in a carbon negative country by mid century - then by having children you may be actually reducing CO2 emissions long term. E.g. children born in Finland will be helping reduce CO2 levels from 2035 onwards.

Our children are part of the transformative change of society. Many of them are in the forefront of changing society.

We need our young children.

As for ideas of over population - they are out of date. Our population as a whole is continuing to increase mainly because of better health care, and a remarkable increase in longevity by ten to twenty years in the last half century. We are already at close to peak child. The most prosperous countries, like Japan, are already declining in population. We have more than enough food for everyone on all scenarios and especially if we transition to more sustainable lifestyles, less food waste, and eating less meat and the right kind of meat.

My post here goes into the population growth question in detail with many cites:

. We can grow enough food for everyone through to 2100 and beyond on all scenarios

We need our kids

Our generation's children can help create the world's first zero carbon industrial civilization

NASA's X-57 Maxwell short haul electric plane

Photo from Children playing outdoors.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

See my

. Rising to the challenge of zero emissions aviation


. Yes our generation’s children are headed for a world with nature and wonder in it


Few people actually know what the scientists themselves said. It’s actually empowering and uplifting.

First for those who have got depressed and thoroughly discouraged, these articles can help them have hope again:

Sadly the media has made many mistakes. The “vanishing insects” and the idea that much of the Earth will experience deadly heat and the idea that we only have 12 years to save the planet are all examples of exaggerated and false stories in the mainstream press, such as the BBC, National Geographic etc.

See my

I do not know of a media outlet that I can guarantee to give you accurate non techy climate science news. Carbon Brief is good but is too techy for most.

Instead listen to the scientists themselves.

These short videos are meant for the public to watch but the journalists NEVER share them. AFAIK I am the only science blogger to share the IPCC keynote videos to the general public in my blog post.

. What The IPCC Scientists Really Said - NOT 'All Going To Die' - Key Points, Press Conference And Some Highlights From The Report

Same for IPBES.

. IPBES cochairs and press conference with transcripts

Then if you have more time you can listen to the press conferences. These are not techy either. They are meant for journalists to listen to, and are far far better than what the journalists write. You often wonder if they went to the same thing. I include a video link to the press conferences in those above links too.

If you found these helpful, try sharing these with friends and colleagues. It may help them too.


other example is the FAO report:


It’s not just you, as part of your social circle or the people around you, you can influence them as well, from an article on the BBC:

Here are four examples:

So - it can help to talk to others around you about what you are doing and why. Or they just see you doing things and ask you.


I do my best to do straightforward reporting of what the scientists say, and because most media reports do not even mention the positive side of their message, I focus on that especially.

(click to watch on Youtube)


The media is full of activist negative framing, telling us that the situation is dire and hopeless. This is not true, it is exaggerated and a natural reaction of activists trying to get others to do things but it’s actually the opposite, positive framing that is far more effective.

This is not the same as positive spin. Clear eyed and straightforward, but presenting the positive things that are happening already, that we can do in the future and that give us hope.

. How to motivate your self, and others to act on climate change, biodiversity or anything else - tips from psychology


For example, how many journalists ran this story? In a very much warmer world, drylands for the most part contract, rather than expand.

Old calculation - near surface air dries out almost everywhere

(for now impossible 4.9°C warmer by 2100)

New calculation - soil and plants take up water in most places in a warming world

Only Carbon Brief ran this story AFAIK

Only CarbonBrief ran this story AFAIK - none of the mainstream media.

Try sharing good news like this - journalists write what we want to hear.

. New study challenges finding that climate change will drive dryland expansion - Carbon Brief

Short video for this section:

(click to watch on Youtube)


This is the current situation, both methods of measuring aridity are almost identical, the new index, the blue line, is more accurate.

Here the yellow and red regions are classified as drylands with a dry climate, limited water and scarce vegetation.


Look at the difference in the maps, the lower map uses the new EI which measures whether the plants are actually gaining or losing water, rather than a mechanical definition basically whether the air just above the land is gaining or losing water ignoring the plants.

This is the projection for 2070 - 2100 under the very extreme RCP 8.5, about 4.9 C increase above pre-industrial, the upper map is by the old definition, the lower map is by the new definition which experts say is more accurate. With the lower map the drylands actually contract more than they expand, even under a 4.9°C increase:

Old calculation based on water vapour near surface

New calculation based on water taken up by soils.

At RCP 8.5 ~4.9 °C - we are headed for more like 2 °C at present.

Blue gets wetter, red gets drier

The maps show the areas that get more moisture or less moisture not whether they are wet or drylands - a big increase in moisture in a desert may only mean the oases have slightly more water - and a decrease in grassland or a tropical rainforest may still be grassland or rainforest.

The upper map is by the old definition, the lower map is by the new definition which experts say is more accurate. With the lower map the drylands actually contract more than they expand, even under a 4.9°C increase:

Here for instance is a zoom in on Mexico. Before this study they thought this would happen:

All the regions surrounded in red would go to drylands. None would go away from drylands.

Now they think this will happen:

In this map the regions outlined in blue go from drylands to less dry - i.e. more vegetation can grow there. The red ones go the other way.

This is only for a huge amount of warming. Much less change on the 2°C path even.

This study would have hit the headlines if it had come to the conclusion that the drylands expand dramatically more than previously predicted, but because it predicts that they not only expand dramatically less than expected, but even contract, it's not a news item for journalists.

The story is here:

. New study challenges finding that climate change will drive dryland expansion - Carbon Brief

My summary here:

. Positive story few have shared - likely headed for a world with fewer rather than more areas of desert and drylands with global warming

We are actually headed for more like 2 C already for optimistic pledges with the new statements of intent from China and the US and “well below 2 C” is now more in reach.

When you see the negative stories in the press, bear in mind that they pre-filter out positive stories and positive framing like this. It’s not just the journalists.

If a journalist did write a story about this, it would be unlikely to make it to the front page and if it did, few would share it in social media.

So - try sharing more positive stories, maybe we can help them become more viral - and then the journalists will want to write them for us.


One of the central messages for IPBES was the need to reduce food waste, both during food production, but also at the customer’s plate, and that we are all involved in this, including changes in lifestyle.

There are studies which showed quite recently that if you reduce the level of animal protein in the diets of people in developed countries you can substantially reduce the area dedicated to pasture, and to agriculture. That has a huge effect.


I’d like to spend a bit of time on this because it is so widely misreported. It’s often reported as the scientists saying we all need to be vegan to preserve the planet. The journalist will then often go on to say, or at least imply - that we can’t hope to achieve this and as part of some depressing “we are doomed” op ed.

This could hardly be further from what the scientists are really saying.

Short video for this section

(click to watch on Youtube)

What they really say is that we use so much land for meat that a small reduction in the amount of animal protein in diets in the developed world can greatly reduce total area of the Earth for pasture and agriculture. This then greatly reduces pressure on the rainforests and other vulnerable ecosystems.

IPBES recommended we aim to reduce our meat use by 20%, e.g. if you eat meat with every meal you could aim for one day a week that’s meatless. That small reduction, added up over everyone who eats meat regularly, could mean a huge reduction in the pressure on the rainforests.

- Meatless Monday - Home

So, we don’t all need to do any of this.

We can achieve this 20% reduction in meat use worldwide by a mix of

  • some that do meatless mondays or in other ways reduce by 20%,
  • some that do nothing,
  • some that make intelligent changes to more sustainable meat,
  • some that are eliminating meat waste,
  • some that go vegan,
  • some that go flexitarian / mediterranean with a 50% meat reduction
  • etc.

Some people actually need meat, or at least find it hard to survive without - their ancestors for many generations have had a meat eating diet. Tibetans are an example.

The Dalai Lama tried to move to a diet of vegetables, milk and eggs but he got very sick and his doctors advised him that it is better for his health if he continues to eat meat occasionally and not go totally vegetarian. He eats meat about once or twice a week. (Buddhist monks don’t have to be vegetarian, the original rule was that they had to accept whatever was given to them on their begging rounds in ancient India).

However anyone can reduce meat consumption or can change their choice of meat to eat. Also anyone can reduce their meat wastage.

. This Is What The Dalai Lama Really Eats

Also we don’t have to do it right now. It can be a gradual change. For instance school children who have got used to one meat free day a week at school may then as adults be interested to continue that lifestyle.

We have until 2050 to achieve it for the carbon zero by 2050 goal - the UK's Committee for Climate Change report envisions that the UK can achieve a 20% meat reduction by 2050 by these methods of voluntary change as a result of publicizing the effects and some initiatives such as meatless mondays at school - the suggestion to replace meat by healthy vegetarian meals for one day of the week for schoolchildren.

Many countries of the world have a largely vegetarian diet already.

Many other countries have a Mediterranean style diet with only 50% of the meat of others.

It also helps a lot to make intelligent choices about the meat you eat, for instance some may choose to be a climate carnivore. The details here will depend on where you live. E.g. in Scotland where I live, then sheep eat grass and if it weren’t for them there wouldn’t be much other use for the grass.

The IPCC gave the same message in their “climate change and the land”.

Climate carnivore: 75% of ruminant meat and dairy replaced by other meat

That’s from Figure 5.12 of the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land

They also say

A 15% reduction of animal products in the diets of high-income countries by 2050 would contribute to containing the need to expand agricultural output due to upward global demographic trends. Not only would GHG emissions and the pressure on land and water be significantly reduced but the potential for low-income countries to increase the intake of animal-based food, with beneficial nutritional outcomes, could be enhanced

From chapter 5 of the Special Report on Climate Change and the Land (IPCC, 2019)

. What the IPCC really said in the recent report on Climate Change and land - serious challenges but we are already doing a lot and we know what to do - their main message is that the sooner we act the better

and to reduce food waste (about 20% o the meat is wasted, much at the customer’s plate).

Most of us have no idea how much land is used to raise animals for meat. This map gives a rough idea. If we were to eat 50% less meat., and we saved on the most land intensive meat - we could save cultivated land equivalent to much of North America - the area shown orange in this map:

The paper is here Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers - the graphic is my own work, adapted from the one here: Yields and Land Use in Agriculture just coloured in in orange an area of 22 million square kilometers as calculated in that paper.

More details here

. Why IPBES and IPCC say eating less meat (e.g. meatless Mondays) is one of best things you can do as an individual to help climate change and biodiversity


The IPBES report also has a big focus on food waste.

Likewise the food waste is an enormous amount of the food production in the world. Between 40 and 50 percent of the fruit and vegetables are wasted and about 30 percent of cereals. In developed countries those happen at the very end of the food chain production happens at the very end of the food distribution and on the consumers plate. In developed countries it happens more upstream, in terms of the production capacity and in terms of the storage capacity.

. IPBES cochairs and press conference with transcripts

They also said we need to

  • stop the perverse subsidies that encourage destruction of biodiversity and actually harm the economy
  • tackle vested interests that benefit in the subsidies that destroy biodiversity
  • encourage the good actors that are already working to help.
  • involve the local level of expertise including indigenous people.

Indigenous peoples have far more of a role to play than most of us realize. It’s not just a few small tribes here and there looking after tiny patches of still wild nature.

IPBES say that indigenous people are still responsible for more than a quarter of the entire land surface of the Earth (managing it or with tenure rights).

Their 25% of the land surface includes 40% of all the land currently protected or ecologically intact. So it is far more important to get the indigenous peoples involved in protecting biodiversity than most people realize.

This is my article I did covering some of the main points.


There are many things you can do in your own life to help with climate change and biodiversity loss.

Don’t feel you have to try to do all these things. Any small thing you do helps - it adds up when millions of people are doing the same.

It’s more a case of inspiration, finding new ways forward, to become part of that transformative change like the transition from horse-drawn carriages to cars - this time a transformation just as great, in many parts of your life - but one that leads to a zero carbon generation in the future, and stopping and reversing biodiversity loss and sustainably using our planet.

We can become a sustainable civilization. After all nature managed to use Earth sustainably for millions of years.

. Simple lifestyle changes to help reduce global warming and biodiversity loss

(click to watch on Youtube)


Doomsday Debunked

Seven tips for dealing with doomsday fears

If you are scared: Seven tips for dealing with doomsday fears which also talks about health professionals and how they can help.

If in the middle of a panic attack, see

Facebook support group

Facebook group Doomsday Debunked has been set up to help anyone who is scared by fake doomsdays including climate doomism.

We also welcome fact checkers to help the scared people.

Please check the group rules before posting or commenting as they are the main reason we are able to run the group smoothly, thanks!

You can also follow my Debunking Doomsday Quora blog or my Twitter channel or my YouTube channel.

If you need help

Do message me on Quora or PM me on Facebook if you need help.

There are many others in the group who are available to support scared people via PM and who can also debunk fake Doomsday “news” for you if you get scared of a story and are not sure if it is true. See our debunkers list

If you are suicidal don’t forget there’s always help a phone call away with the List of suicide crisis lines - Wikipedia