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Human Pressure on Earth Has Reached Extinction Danger Critical Level

By , January 17th, 2015 | 30 Comments »


Human pressure on earth has reached critical extinction danger levels

First proposed by a group of Earth system and environmental scientists, planetary boundaries is an Earth system framework designed to define “safe operating space for humanity.” According to Wikipedia, this framework was designed for governments at all levels, international organizations, the scientific community, private sector and civil society, and is based on research that has shown that human activities have become the main driver of global environmental change since the Industrial Revolution. Once these planetary boundaries have been transgressed, there is a risk of “irreversible and abrupt environmental change” according to the authors of the original report.

In this milieu, a team of researchers has again come together in order to revise and update the planetary boundaries framework. In their recent report for Science magazine, the authors write that they have “focus[ed] on the underpinning biophysical science” based on conversations with expert research communities as well as scientific advances over the past 5 years in order to refine and elaborate on certain aspects of the original framework.

Originally, nine boundaries were proposed to form the planetary boundaries framework; however, the authors of the 2015 report write that, “There are many other ways that Earth System functioning could be described, including potentially valuable metrics for quantifying the human imprint on it.”

The updated boundaries include climate change, changes in biosphere integrity, stratospheric ozone depletion, ocean acidification, biogeochemical flows, land-system change, freshwater use, atmospheric aerosol loading and novel entities. Certain boundaries, such as novel entities and atmospheric aerosol loading, however, have not yet been quantified. Additionally, the authors of the new report introduced a two-tier approach for some boundaries, which reflects “the importance of cross-scale interactions and the regional-level heterogeneity of the processes that underpin the boundaries.”

The authors emphasize that two of the core boundaries — climate change and biosphere integrity — have the potential to “drive the Earth System into a new state should they be substantially and persistently transgressed.” These core boundaries, as well as the land-system change and the high level of phosphorus and nitrogen flowing into the oceans because of fertilizer use (components of the biochemical flows planetary boundary), have already exceeded “safe” levels.

As lead author Will Steffen, who holds appointments at the Australian National University and the Stockholm Resilience Center, told the Washington Post, “What the science has shown is that human activities — economic growth, technology, consumption–are destabilizing the global environment.”

Though there is no certainty that the world will end once these boundaries are transgressed, or even shortly thereafter, no one is sure what will happen as the Earth’s planetary conditions continue to change; though the authors do write that our planet “is likely to be much less hospitable to the development of human societies.” Indeed, as Steffen told Grist, “It’s clear the economic system is driving us towards an unsustainable future and people of my daughter’s generation will find it increasingly hard to survive.”

(Photo courtesy of Beth Scupham)

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Comments

  • Tony says:

    More liberal and Obama scare tactics. All you have to do is wake up and see the earth is keeping everyone alive to know this is a lie. The earth was put here for us to exploit. The fact that we are all still here proves this is a bunch of liberal agenda crap to try and keep unemployment high so they have something to gripe about.

    • NewPancake says:

      Man you have been watching too much Fox News. Keep an open mind, science is better than grasping at hate…

      • Tony R. says:

        You see fit to criticize someone who exercises critical thinking and expresses a thought that doesn’t comport with the “party line”, yet are more than willing to swallow all the garbage being spoon-fed to you by the mainstream media. Go figure.

        • fireofenergy says:

          Although you shouldn’t deny the science behind the physics of excess CO2, you’re right about the fact that this energy debate has become a political football. The physics of a closed sphere really don’t care what silly American dems or repubs think.

        • JudgeDredd says:

          Is there anything that comports more with “party lines” than attacking the entire philosophy and structure of another “party line” rather than focusing entirely on the issue at hand?

    • Tom Snell says:

      You are a complete idiot. We are slowly destroying the Earth. Anyone with kids should be concerned. This is not a political battle but reality. Anyone that believes that there is no Global Warming caused by Man probably still believes in Santa Claus or has their head up their backside!!! Look at “Love Canal” and Chernobyl as a microcosm of what man is doing to the environment.

      • fireofenergy says:

        With a response like that, who needs science?

      • Chris says:

        What is really going on here is that fewer and fewer people believe all the socialist panic artists saying that the world is getting hotter and demonizing CO2, vital to human respiration, so that they can tax it and by so doing a) build a slush fund and b) reduce Western productivity. This is just a trial balloon to see if anyone is brain-dead enough to play Chicken Little

        • fireofenergy says:

          This is exactly why I comment, so that the enviro’s at heart do not allow the TRUTH to become a political blunder. Sure, the legions of welfare/entitlement seeking “entrepreneurs” will try to fix a niche in the name of global warming (or whatever new name they give it). The real name is “excess CO2” because, that is physically what it is. Real science is the art of deciphering physics.

          Science is “man”, physics is “God”. You can not cheat the laws of physics.

          It is definitely up to people like me to make it known that just because politicians want to capitalize on the truth (that excess CO2 will alter the biosphere) that we can NOT let them reduce our energy supplies (or create some kind of conspiracy theory reality)! And that such misuse doesn’t mean that the science ain’t true. Learn what an infrared absorber is, learn why maganese atoms turn to carbonates and learn why advanced nuclear is better than fossil fuels – anyways. Yes, I’m fighting against the “believers and the deniers” here, because neither promote proper solutions.

        • John says:

          CO2 is an asphyxiant, as in it will asphyxiate you if you don’t also get your O2. The only way in which it is “vital to human respiration” is that it is vital that our systems rid themselves of it.

          If you don’t remember your 6th grade biology, then maybe you should be educating yourself instead of implying that people who DO have an education are gullible.

    • Tom says:

      You should do the world a favour, don’t breed, if you have then kill yourself and them..now.

    • Nicole says:

      This isn’t liberal crap, this is science. It isn’t good news, it sucks. Go drink another bottle of coke and help make that garbage patch in the ocean even bigger. Nobody wants to fuck up your fantasy that everything is ok.

    • Vee says:

      Yes, despite our abuse the earth is still here and supporting your life style; however, that’s like saying I can drive my car 100,000 miles without an oil change and expect nothing to happen. Sure, perhaps my car is still running, but it won’t be for long. This is coming from a conservative that appreciates that a stable environment free from polution will be good for me and my kids.Take a look at Hong Kong and you’ll see the impact of human complacency in regards to air quality and environmental comfort.

  • Greg says:

    Hopefully we’ll all come to our senses before it’s too late. Those living today have nothing to worry about, and that’s the problem. If it was going to endanger the current generation, you can bet your ass we would be doing a lot more than we are. It’s our grandchildren who are going to suffer.

  • Don says:

    Tony is wearing blinders. I’m no science whiz but I can see that the climate has been steadily changing throughout the 62 years I’ve been hanging out on this rock. Tony might be a little bass-akwards about what came first, us or the Earth. As a Christian it is my belief that God made the heavens and the earth for us to have stewardship over. Our stewardship over the past couple of centuries leaves a lot to be desired. Is it too late to reform? I don’t know.

  • Lyn says:

    Tony,
    “The earth was put here for us to exploit”? That’s really ignorant! And arrogant.
    Don’t go too near the edge of the earth, or you may fall off.
    Your last sentence proves that you are beyond help!

  • __drawn_out says:

    The fact that Tony exists disproves Darwin

  • elopez17 says:

    Tony is part of those republican morons that still believe the science is wrong and they are right.
    And that Keystone XL pipeline is the best idea for the environment. “Right Tony”

    • fireofenergy says:

      The sad thing about saying no to XL is that others will get in on it, those that may not even at all consider science, and that the U.S would thus import more from middle east. In other words, that is besides the point. If we are to create the tech fix, we must make clean (24/7 reliable) energy cheaper than coal AND enact the little carbon tax necessary for the brand new olivine industry dedicated to SAVING the biosphere.

      • John says:

        The attitude that says “we should do something bad because somebody will if we don’t” is the attitude that is going to destroy human civilization.

        We have what we need for a tech fix right now. It might not be cheaper than coal right now, but it is cheap enough that it is cheaper to invest in it now than it is to invest in coal now AND new tech later.

  • Beach says:

    What’s happening to our planet is stunning…

  • fireofenergy says:

    Well, the deniers got something right. All you whiners out there think that if we hunker down and weather it out (global warming) by starving ourselves, we’ll be ok. No! The biosphere will die – it’s too late (to do nothing), we’ve already tipped the balance.
    Back when I was born, the PPM was just 320, now (and I’m not even that old), it’s past 400.
    So a windmill here and a solar panel there won’t do diddly! What we need to do is enact the multifaceted tech fix. That’ll be olivine extraction on a grand scale, (advanced) nuclear on a grand scale and machine automation on a grand scale (so solar and wind can help, too).
    The magnanese atoms in olivine form into carbonates when subject to moisture and CO2. Biochar can help, too (since it actually rewards us the bonus of free heat in its makeup). The advanced nuclear from uranium (or thorium) molten salt reactors offer UNLIMITED clean energy potential (to make fuels with, too) and are absolutely meltdown proof (no explosive water needed for core cooling). And, of course, diesel fuel is needed for the INDUSTRIALIZATION needed to sequester 20x the excess CO2 in the form of benign carbonates.

    • Chris says:

      More brain-dead, socialist rhetoric! This is not real science anymore than globull warming was. Go read the Climategate e-mails. Go look at some real data sets, not the “adjusted” ones. This nonsense is no different.

      • fireofenergy says:

        Climate gate was when the PPM was only 385. Now, it’s 400. Only brain dead socialists would deny that. Kinda sucks living on a sphere which enacts consequences doesn’t it. Did I say the solution was to give Mr. gore our money? NO! Go learn SCIENCE before you proceed.
        We subsidize roads, subsidize space travel, subsidize ALL the energy sources and have social security. Your idea of a non socialist (type) infrastructure is as anti-American as the cruel medieval ages where they kill all of the physically weak. Why not subsidize a whole new jobs making industry of removing the EXCESS which scientists (and ordinary people like me) PROVE will both cause warming and ocean (surface) acidification. You can’t prove me wrong because you can’t deny the laws of physics.
        Nuclear is the best replacement as long as it’s molten salt reactors. “All” enviro’s hate nuclear. I’m not one of them!

      • maxima says:

        In 2012, National Science Board member James Lawrence Powell investigated peer-reviewed literature published about climate change and found that out of 13,950 articles, 13,926 supported the reality of global warming.
        Here you go Chris, real data sets.

  • Realism says:

    What is this article talking about?!?! lol the title of the article says something else, and then the body is talking about political stuff.

  • Nicole says:

    Corporations being given way too much power to do whatever they want in order to make money. They poison our water, pollute our landfills with plastic that never degrades, just seeps poison into the ground, stip mine, destroy, destroy , destroy……..

  • Just a Voice says:

    I agree with Tony, “This is just liberal scare tactics.”
    This is just like having a rattlesnake sitting inches in front of you and hearing it “rattle,” I mean it’s just scare tactics. Right?
    Even if you get bitten by the snake and die of poising it’s still “Just Liberal Scare Tactics.” No other thinking needed!
    After all another fascinating feature of Conservative (ahem) intellect, is their ability for “Conserving” the amount of energy it takes to use their flippin’ brains. After all, God will appear at the apocalypse and save the Conservatives.

  • Jed says:

    Does it ever occur to both sides that the Earth’s way of protecting itself is to increase CO2 so all living species die off- nothing will actually ” happen” to the earth!

  • Monte says:

    How can life be so prevalent throughout the universe if it is so fragile here?

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