Earth has moved out of the “safe operating space for humanity,” according to a new study assessing the health of nine key environmental measurements.
Research Published on Wednesday Earth’s air pollution, biodiversity, chemical pollution, climate, fertilizer pollution, freshwater health, land use, ocean acidity and the health of the ozone layer were measured.
The study found that all measurements except air pollution levels, ocean acidity and the ozone layer were beyond safe levels. Ocean and air pollution was also becoming more evident.
Researchers say these so-called “planetary boundaries” determine the relative health of the planet for humans.
These were established based on other peer-reviewed science that has identified safe living conditions, such as a 350 parts-per-million level of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Staying within these identified limits generally provides a safe environment, while exceeding them makes the entire planetary system more unsafe.
This team of researchers first measured nine boundaries in 2009, where they found that five out of nine ranges exceeded safe limits. Since then, the health of freshwater has been added to the vulnerable category, as runoff levels have worsened and scientists’ ability to measure water systems has become more accurate.
Researchers say that all factors are interrelated. Their models showed that as single factors, such as the health of the climate or the level of biodiversity, declined, other vital signals could also decline as a result. On the other hand, improvements in some areas of the Earth system may lead to improvements in other areas as well.
Streamlining our land use and preserving forests, the researchers write, “could be one of the most powerful tools humanity has for combating climate change”, while also reducing pollution by encouraging biodiversity. and water health may improve.
“Biodiversity is fundamental to maintaining the carbon cycle and the water cycle,” said co-author Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. “The biggest headache we face today is the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis.”
There is some disagreement among scientists over whether the model of planetary boundaries is accurate enough to show where Earth’s true boundaries are, and how they all interact. But many agree that new research clearly shows the risks of getting close to or going beyond them.