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Global Crew - Study Shows Earth Already Past 3 Tipping Points

Mar 30, 2010 07:44PM

A team of 28 scientists responsible for the groundbreaking paper, “Planetary Boundaries: A Safe Operating Space for Humanity,” published in Nature, have identified 10 biophysical systems that are crucial to humanity’s flourishing. They caution against “carbon blindness,” or focusing on atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations above all else; rather, they point to 10 safe operating boundaries within which we must remain to maintain the basic environmental conditions in which we have evolved.

“Human activities,” the scientists warn, “have now reached a magnitude that may trigger irreversible and, in some cases, abrupt environmental change, by damaging the regulatory capacity of the systems on Earth that keep the planet in the desired Holocene state” (that of the past 10,000 years).

As of 2009, biodiversity loss was already at more than four times the identified tipping point, closely followed by a damaged nitrogen cycle; climate change had just passed the crucial tipping point. Ocean acidification and stratospheric ozone depletion are currently at the tipping point. Land system change, the phosphorus cycle and global freshwater use are closing in on the critical point, with chemical pollution and atmospheric aerosol loading the other two categorical dangers.

Source: Grist.org

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