Global Research: Humans are moving beyond Earth’s boundaries more than ever before

Now the same twenty-nine scientists report that we have crossed six of Earth’s nine boundaries.

The new frontiers being crossed are the impact of chemical pollutants – including plastics and pesticides – and their impact on the planet’s freshwater reserves.

The fact that we are crossing more boundaries suggests that scientists now have the data and methods to measure all nine boundaries, but also that the pressure has increased.

It can change the conditions of life

Eight of the nine boundaries are under greater pressure than in 2015, and only the ozone layer is improving. In general, the risk of major changes in living conditions on Earth is increasing.

We contacted Katherine Richardson, professor of biological oceanography at the University of Copenhagen and co-author of the study.

“Remember, modern civilization has only been around for about 10,000 years, and the environment was very stable and life flourished. But we don’t know what the consequences would be under other circumstances. With humanity potentially affecting Earth’s resources unbalanced,” Katherine Richardson told Science in Image. “We don’t know whether the distant future will be stable enough to support civilization as we know it.”

When conditions on Earth are stable, the interaction between the so-called biosphere and the geosphere is in equilibrium.

The biosphere is the sum of all ecosystems, so to speak, the area of ​​life on Earth, while the geosphere includes the entire Earth, from the surface to the core.

Humans take biomass from the Earth

One of the main reasons Earth is overshooting is that we are taking too many resources from our planet.

Plants capture sunlight and get energy from photosynthesis. As humans use more and more of nature for their own use, changing the water levels in rivers and soil, releasing synthetic chemicals into the environment and emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, this not only affects the balance between the biosphere and the geosphere, it also affects the balance between the Biosphere and geosphere. Photosynthesis.

The researchers looked at what photosynthesis looked like in the last 10,000 years before the industrial revolution in the 18th century, and how much energy humans have extracted from it since then.

“Humans take a lot of biomass from nature. We extracted almost a third of the energy available from nature before the industrial revolution. The energy we have extracted from nature is largely responsible for the current decline in biodiversity on Earth,” explains Katherine Richardson.

So when we cut down trees en masse, it leads to a significant loss of biomass, affecting biodiversity and reducing the ability of forests to store carbon.

It’s about more than climate and carbon dioxide

For scientists, it is not the number of boundaries crossed that is important, but the way in which all nine subsystems interact. This interaction explains the strength of the global system, its ability to self-organize over billions of years, and its vulnerability to human disruption of its interactions and balances.

The important point regarding land boundaries is that it is not only about climate, but also about areas that also need the attention of citizens and politicians.

“The most important conclusion is that we should not focus solely on climate. Particularly interesting is the interaction between conditions on Earth and life.” Just as our ancestors knew they could survive better if they conserved their resources, we now see that activity “Humankind is so widespread that we must also change our use of Earth’s resources as a whole,” Katherine Richardson tells Science magazine, pictured.

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Winton Frazier

 "Amateur web lover. Incurable travel nerd. Beer evangelist. Thinker. Internet expert. Explorer. Gamer."

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