Planetary Boundaries


By Ghassan Karam  Special to Ya Libnan

It is not very often that we get credible ecological news that is not full of negative news and dark projections. Well, I am glad to say that the following is the conclusion of a recently released  study that actually suggests that humans have not lost the race yet.  Yes we are on our way towards catastrophic outcomes but we are not there yet and interestingly enough we can still avoid the worst outcome if we are smart enough to change our ways and work meaningfully towards redemption.

The Stockholm Resilience Center, at Stockholm University is self described as a center of Research for Governance of Social-Ecological Systems. The Centre released a few months ago a major study undertaken by 28 world renown scientists in which they have established a new area in planetary management. Their first study describes  nine planetary boundaries (listed at the bottom of this entry) that they believe humanity must not cross. The study goes on to say that human activity has thus far resulted in breaching three of these boundaries (the stared ones)but not the other six.

We are currently living in the geologic era known as the Holocene which started around 10,000 years ago. As we all know, it was during the Holocene that agriculture was developed, civilization prospered and industrialization became the norm. But unfortunately we are entering the Anthropocene, a new geological age in which human activities have grown as to form a major threat to the health of the earth.

Will we have the wisdom to adopt the right policies and change our behavior so as to avoid catastrophy? Yes we still can do that but time is quickly running out. And please keep in mind that saving the earth is everyones business, young and old, rich and poor.

The nine Planetary Boundaries:

1 Strategic ozone layer

2 Biodiversity

3 Chemical Dispersion

4 Climate Change  ***

5 Ocean Acidification ***

6 Freshwater consumption & the global hydrological cycle

7 Land System Change

8 Nitrogen & Phosphorus inputs to the biosphere & ocean ***

9 Atmospheric aerosol loading

*** Transgressed boundary. ( Hat tip Sebouh)



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