Human activities have pushed the Earth toward a “dangerous zone,” threatening to destabilize the entire planet, a study shows.
According to the study published in the Science journal on Thursday, the planet has already passed four of nine environmental boundaries toward a “dangerous zone.”
Human activities have transgressed four boundaries, two core ones of which are “climate change and biosphere integrity,” the journal said.
“Should they be substantially and persistently transgressed,” read the paper’s abstract, “this may drive the Earth System into a new state.”
“For the first time in human history, we need to relate to the risk of destabilizing the entire planet,” said one of the article’s authors, Johan Rockstrom, who is an environmental science professor at Stockholm University.
In 2009, scientists identified nine planetary boundaries in which a safe operating space for humanity was quantified.
Although the other five boundaries of ozone depletion, ocean acidification, freshwater use, microscopic particles in the atmosphere and chemical pollution have not been transgressed yet, trespassing them will gradually push the planet toward chaos, the research said.
“Just because we are not seeing a collapse today doesn’t mean we are not subjecting humanity to a process that could lead to catastrophic outcomes over the next century,” said Rockstrom, adding, “We are at a point where we may see abrupt and irreversible changes due to climate change.”
A group of 18 leading international researchers have contributed to the research article, Planetary Boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet.