Earth Is ‘Well Outside Safe Operating Space for Humanity’, 6 Planetary Boundaries Broken

earth is 'well outside safe operating space for humanity', 6 planetary boundaries broken

Scientists have revealed that the Earth’s life-support systems are so damaged that the planet is now “well outside the safe operation space for humanity”. The latest health check on the planet has revealed that human activity has caused the most damage to Earth.

As per the health check published in Science Advances journal, a team of 29 scientists have found that six out of nine “planetary boundaries” have been broken due to human-caused pollution and destruction of nature. Planetary boundaries refer to the safe limits for human life on Earth.

Expanding on their 2015 report, the scientists have added that eight out of nine boundaries are under more pressure than they were in the initial assessment.

Scientists have added that the broken boundaries mean the life support systems have been driven far from safe and stable conditions for human life. The nine planetary boundaries refer to –

  1. Biosphere integrity
  2. Climate change
  3. Freshwater changes
  4. Ocean acidification
  5. Stratospheric ozone depletion
  6. Atmospheric aerosol loading
  7. Land system change
  8. The introduction of novel entities such as synthetic chemicals and nuclear waste.
  9. Biogeochemical flows such as the movement of nitrogen through global element cycles.

Out of this, scientists have stated that six of these have been broken the two – air pollution and ocean acidification – are close to being broken.

The one boundary which is not worrisome anymore is ozone depletion since the hole in the ozone layer is shrinking.

“We know for certain that humanity can thrive under the conditions that have been here for 10,000 years – we don’t know that we can thrive under major, dramatic alterations [and] humans impacts on the Earth system as a whole are increasing as we speak,” stated Katherine Richardson, University of Copenhagen at a press conference. Richardson is also the lead author for the planetary health check.

The group of experts have also stated that the “most worrying finding” was that all four of the biological boundaries are already at or near the level of highest risk.

“We can think of Earth as a human body, and the planetary boundaries as blood pressure. Over 120/80 does not indicate a certain heart attack but it does raise the risk,” Richardson added further.

The planetary assessment indicates that several boundaries were crossed long back. As per the report, the boundary for biosphere integrity was crossed back in the 19th century. The safe boundary for climate change was crossed in the 1980s and the freshwater boundary was crossed in the early 20th century.

As per a 2022 study, the boundaries for synthetic waste such as pesticides, plastics and nuclear waste. Scientists have shared that the six boundaries of – biospheric integrity, climate change, freshwater changes, land system change, synthetic pollution and biochemical flows – have trangressed and the Earth is now “well outside of the safe operating space for humanity.”