Global Boundaries

Let the Environment Guide Our Development by Johan Rockstrom

This week in my Science of Environmental Issues class we focused on learning about the complexity in nature and the environment, specifically planetary boundaries. As discussed by Rockstrom, there are many planetary boundaries including climate change, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification and more. These boundaries define the “safe operating state” for humanity to continue thriving on this planet. It is already estimated that two boundaries have been crossed which means humanity is at a turning point.

Humanity either needs to find more sustainable ways to live on this planet or face the consequences. Each planetary boundary has effects on each of the other boundaries. If one boundary is crossed others are in turn negatively affected. For example, the nitrogen cycle boundary has been crossed primarily because of the mass production of fertilizer for food production. This additional nitrogen produced by humanity makes our planets bodies of water more acidic, leading to loss of biodiversity in the marine ecosystems which causes strains on the already crossed biodiversity boundary. All o the boundaries are interconnected and it is not enough to just help prevent the crossing of one boundary. In class we discussed what the boundaries are, how they affect each other, and what are some ways to prevent crossing more.

Interesting articles on the topic:

Rockstrom_2009_Nature_planetary_boundaries_human_activity (1)

Running_2012_Science_10th_planetary_boundary_for_biosphere (1)