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Posted Mon Aug 8 2011: from Earth Institute:
Have We Crossed the 9 Planetary Boundaries?
Just what is a safe operating space for human civilization? Twenty-eight scientists from around the world defined a "safe planetary operating space" circumscribed by 9 planetary boundaries within which humanity can continue to thrive and develop. The 2009 report by the group led by Johan Rockström, Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, examined the non-negotiable planetary conditions that humanity needs to respect and maintain in order to avoid catastrophic environmental changes.... While scientists have warned of specific environmental tipping points in the past, the 9 planetary boundaries concept looks at the global system as a whole and how separate biophysical processes interact. One of the report authors, Jonathan Foley, Director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, likened man's ignorance of the planetary gestalt to driving full speed at night over a mesa without lights or a map. We know the cliffs are out there, but we don't know where. The 9 planetary boundaries are an attempt to create that much needed map.... Human beings have already crossed the boundaries for climate change, biodiversity loss, and interference with the nitrogen cycle; and we are fast approaching the boundaries for freshwater use, land use changes, ocean acidification, and interference with the global phosphorus cycle.
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