Planetary Boundaries: Exploring the Safe Operating Space for Humanity

Athropogenic pressures on the Earth System have reached a scale where abrupt global environmental change can no longer be excluded. We propose a new approach to global sustainability in which we define planetary boundaries within which we expect that humanity can operate safely.

Transgressing one or more planetary boundaries may be deleterious or even catastrophic due to the risk of crossing thresholds that will trigger non-linear, abrupt environmental change within continental- to planetary-scale systems. We have identified nine planetary boundaries and, drawing upon current scientific understanding, we propose quantifications for seven of them. These seven are climate change (CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.

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