Knowledge for better food systems

Stockholm Resilience Centre Report: Tipping Towards the Unknown

A group of 28 internationally renowned scientists have proposed that global biophysical boundaries, identified on the basis of the scientific understanding of the earth system, can define a 'safe planetary operating space' that will allow humanity to continue to develop and thrive for generations to come.
A group of 28 internationally renowned scientists have proposed that global biophysical boundaries, identified on the basis of the scientific understanding of the earth system, can define a 'safe planetary operating space' that will allow humanity to continue to develop and thrive for generations to come. The scientists first identified the Earth System processes and potential biophysical thresholds, which, if crossed, could generate unacceptable environmental change for humanity. They then proposed nine planetary boundaries that should be respected in order to reduce the risk of crossing these thresholds: climate change, stratospheric ozone, land use change, freshwater use, biological diversity, ocean acidification, nitrogen and phosphorus inputs to the biosphere and oceans, aerosol loading and chemical pollution. The study suggests that three of these boundaries (climate change, biological diversity and nitrogen input to the biosphere) may already have been transgressed. In addition, it emphasizes that the boundaries are strongly connected - crossing one boundary may seriously threaten the ability to stay within safe levels of the others. Their approach is outlined in a forthcoming paper, to be published in Ecology and Society. For more information see here. One of the planetary 'boundaries' - the nitrogen cycle - is the subject of a recent article by science journalist Fred Pearce. Read it here.
 

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