20 January 2015
Planetary Boundaries updated
Four of nine planetary boundaries have now been crossed as a result of human activity, show international study with co-author Katherine Richardson from CMEC. Published in Science.
The planetary boundaries concept, first published in 2009, identifies nine global priorities relating to human-induced changes to the environment. The science shows that these nine processes and systems regulate the stability and resilience of the Earth System – the interactions of land, ocean, atmosphere and life that together provide conditions upon which our societies depend.
Managing these priorities at safe global levels will enable world development within a safe operating space on Earth, say the researchers. The new research builds on a large number of scientific publications critically assessing and improving the planetary boundaries research since its original publication. It confirms the original set of boundaries and provides updated analysis and quantification for several of them, including phosphorus and nitrogen cycles, land-system change, freshwater use and biosphere integrity. Biosphere integrity relates to the scale and impact of humans on ecosystems.
The nine Planetary Boundaries. Four of them are transgressing the safe operating space. Credit: Steffen et al. Science (2015). Journal Science / AAAS Download graphics