Information and (random) thoughts on environmental governance
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Planetary Boundaries

A group of academics has attempted to estimate limits for biophysical processes to avoid catastrophic environmental changes. Jonhan Rockstrom and colleagues proposes the concept of “planetary boundaries”, a framework for quantifying safe thresholds for long-term human development. In a article published in the journal Nature, they suggest boundaries for nine indicators of stress to the Earth system: climate change, stratospheric ozone, land use change, freshwater use, biological diversity, ocean acidification, nitrogen and phosphorus inputs to the biosphere and oceans, aerosol loading and chemical pollution. According to the authors, for three of these indicators (nitrogen cycle, loss of species and climate change) the maximum acceptable limit has already been crossed. As Earth’s biophysical processes are interlinked, crossing even one or a limited number of these boundaries, could lead to catastrophic changes.

Rockstrom’s article is somewhat provocative and controversial. Some experts ask whether boundaries for environmental change can currently be established at al, and whether the concept of planetary boundaries would be helpful in taking action to protect the planet and the society.

The article can be accessed at Nature’s website; and the expert commentaries at Nature’s Blog.

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