From global warming to the biosphere and deforestation, from pollutants and plastic to nitrogen cycles and freshwater: Six of nine planetary boundaries are being crossed, while simultaneously pressure in all boundary processes is increasing, new research published in the journal Science Advances shows.
“This update on planetary boundaries clearly depicts a patient that is unwell, as pressure on the planet increases and vital boundaries are being breached. We don’t know how long we can keep transgressing these key boundaries before combined pressures lead to irreversible change and harm,” says Centre researcher and co-author Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Professor in environmental science at the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University.
The new study is the third major assessment of the planetary boundaries framework, first introduced in 2009. It is the first to provide a complete check-up of all nine processes and systems that maintain the stability and resilience of our planet. While transgressing a boundary is not equivalent to drastic changes happening overnight, together they mark a critical threshold for increasing risks to people and the ecosystems we are part of.
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