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Planet Boundaries

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.

Planet Boundaries

  • 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.

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