September 25, 2009

Human impact crosses three boundaries



Humanity has dangerously overstepped three of the planet's nine key natural thresholds, and are on track to cross the remaining six in coming decades, according to a new warning from an international team of scientists.

The three areas in which people have passed the limits of safe operating space are climate change, biodiversity loss and the nitrogen portion of the nitrogen/phosphorus inputs to the biosphere and ocean. The world is also approaching the safety limits for land system change, ocean acidification, global freshwater use and the phosphorus portion of the nitrogen/phosphorus inputs to the biosphere and ocean.

This report is the subject of Nature Magazine's feature article for this month.

According to the conclusion of Nature's editorial on this report:

"...this is a creditable attempt to quantify the limitations of our existence on Earth, and provides a good basis for discussion and future refinement. To facilitate that discussion, Nature is simultaneously publishing seven commentaries from leading experts that can be freely accessed at Nature Reports Climate Change (see http://tinyurl.com/planetboundaries)."



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