“7 out of 8 Earth’s safe and just borders have been crossed.” | environment

Humanity has already crossed seven of Earth’s eight safe and just boundaries. That’s what the Earth Commission, an international team of more than forty scientists, said in a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature. Global warming threatens not only life on our planet, but also other human-affected developments such as dwindling fresh water supplies, environmental pollution, and degradation of biodiversity.

“We are in the Anthropocene (part of the Holocene, the youngest geological epoch in which humans have an influence on the climate and the Earth system, ed.)) and threaten the stability and resilience of the entire planet,” says Professor Johan Rockström. , co-chair of the Earth Commission, lead author of the study and director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). The research should provide “measurable numbers and a solid scientific basis for the first time” in order to “assess the state of health of our planet, not only in terms of the stability and resilience of the Earth system, but also in terms of human well-being and fairness/justice.”, it seems.


After all, when tackling climate change, the idea of ​​fairness and justice is crucial, scientists believe. While a warming of 1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial era is considered safe, they consider a warming of no more than 1°C. After all, tens of millions of people are already affected by the effects of global warming, and that number will only increase with every tenth of a degree of warming, say scientists.

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Unless a shift occurs in time, irreversible tipping points and widespread impacts on human well-being are very likely to be inevitable.

Johan Rockström, Co-Chair of the Earth Committee

The panel identified eight safe and fair limits grouped into the five domains of climate, biosphere (the part of the earth inhabited by living organisms), water, nutrient cycles and air pollution. The study shows that seven of those eight limits have already been crossed. For example, not even half of the Earth’s surface is in its natural state or sustainably managed to maintain the natural services of ecosystems, such as pollination, fresh water and clean air, the scientists note. They set the safe and fair limit at 50 to 60 percent.

“very disturbing”

“Our results are deeply troubling. Within the five domains analyzed, many boundaries have already been crossed, both globally and locally. This means that unless a shift occurs in time, irreversible tipping points and widespread consequences for well-being are very likely. Avoiding this scenario is crucial if we are to ensure a secure and just future for present and future generations, Professor Rockstrom said.

Man-made aerosols (solid and liquid particles suspended in the atmosphere) are the only safe and fair boundary of the Earth system that scientists have yet to cross. Locally, the fair value has already been exceeded, but due to a lack of data, scientists have no insight into global aerosols.

The heat stored in the Earth’s land area is 20 times hotter today than it was in 1960.

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Denton Watson

"Friend of animals everywhere. Evil twitter fan. Pop culture evangelist. Introvert."

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