The Science journal published a new research study conducted by a team of 18 scientists on Thursday. They underline the fact that four crucial planetary boundaries out of nine were exceeded in what they called the preserving of a “safe operating space.”
The critical boundaries they referred to are biogeochemical cycles that have been altered (i.e. the excess of nitrogen and phosphorus), climate change, a severe loss in the integrity of biosphere and the land-system change.
The human civilization has exceeded four of the nine pivotal planetary boundaries and, translated into numbers, this means we are already doomed in a proportion of 44 percent.
The director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Limnology, Steve Carpenter released a statement to express the fact that policymakers should understand the dangers for humankind. The civilization can cease to exist because the crossing of the biophysical boundaries is a huge threat.
Carpenter added that for the last 11,700 years Earth was in a “remarkably stable state.” This period of about twelve millennia is called “Holocene epoch.” From about 100 years ago, civilization witnessed major discoveries and breakthroughs in most of the scientific fields, technology, social and cultural life so on and so forth. Holocene epoch was mainly characterized by its stability and hospitality eased the development of human civilization. Some of Holocene’s characteroistics have seen a dramatic shift in the last century. Carpenter stated that humankind can possibly adapt to conditions different than Holocene’s, but this kind of experiment has never been done before. He suggested that it will be wise to maintain the stable conditions we live in right now and that we should seek to maintain them.
Carpenter studied the amount of two essential elements, nitrogen and phosphorus and their presence in the environment. The results of the research study concluded that immense amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus entered the ecosystem as fertilizers for crops. The natural cycles of the two elements was changed more than any other element’s cycle because they are present in rates of 2 to 3 times more than before. As a comparison, carbon has been found to reach an increase of 10 to 20 percent. The nitrogen and phosphorus can severely damage the water quality.
According to the researchers, biosphere’s integrity and climate change are two planetary boundaries that can have the potential to shift Earth’s natural systems in a state of danger and uncertainty.
Image Source: The Conversation