"Humanity's consumption comes at a cost to a wide variety of planetary systems
that depend on one another for sustainability. Like dominoes, instability in
one leans heavily on others in line, creating a set of boundaries that can
cause serious problems if breached.
Past studies have warned our appetites have stressed at least a few of these
boundaries to breaking point. Yet as handy as it is to interpret our global
ecology in such a way, it fails to consider the accessibility we may have – and
often don't have – to necessary resources.
According to a new report by a large international team of researchers, when
fairness and justice is taken into account for each field, major components of
our planet's life-support systems fail not for just a couple of boundaries, but
on at least seven out of eight counts.
Thanks to us, the climate, the biosphere, the water cycle, the atmosphere, and
the nutrient cycle on Earth have all been thrown dangerously out of whack
already for much of the world's population.
Yet when justice is taken into account, some scenarios begin to affect portions
of our planet far sooner, posing far more stringent boundaries. Aerosols, for
example, put the health of millions around the world at risk, with "with
vulnerable groups being affected disproportionately more while polluting less."
The idea of 'safe planetary boundaries' was explored in 2009 by some of the
same researchers as those behind this latest analysis, including climate
scientist Johan Rockström of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
Back then, Rockström and his colleagues only considered what 'safe' biophysical
boundaries Earth had crossed. Adding a threshold of justice, this new approach
factors in human access to water, food, energy, health, and a clean
Via Rixty Dixet.
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics