Why is it in the news?
- According to a new study, the world has breached six of the nine planetary boundaries necessary to maintain Earth’s stability and resilience.
- In 2009, 28 internationally renowned researchers identified and quantified a set of nine planetary boundaries within which humanity can continue to develop and feel good in the future.
- If we cross these limits, abrupt or irreversible environmental changes can occur with serious consequences for humankind.
- The boundaries include climate change, biodiversity loss, ozone depletion, ocean acidification, nutrient cycles, land-system change, freshwater use, aerosol loading, and introduction of novel entities.
About the Study
- An update to the 2009 planetary boundaries framework.
- Researchers identified key Earth ecosystem processes for human well-being over the past 12,000 years.
- Assessed how human activities are altering these processes.
- Identifying the level at which human activities raise the risk of dramatic and irreversible environmental changes.
Findings of the Study
- Six of the nine boundaries breached.
- Breached boundaries include climate change, biodiversity loss, land system change, freshwater use, nutrient cycles, and introduction of novel entities.
- Atmospheric CO2 concentration exceeded the safe limit.
- Extinction rates are far higher than the safe limit.
- Human impacts on water resources surpassed safe boundaries.
- Phosphorus and nitrogen cycle limits exceeded.
- Introduction of new substances into the environment has transgressed the boundary.
- Stratospheric ozone depletion, aerosol loading, and ocean acidification are within safe limits but pose increasing risks.
- Breaching boundaries increases the risk of irreversible environmental changes.
- These changes could disrupt the Earth’s ecosystems and threaten human civilization.