The 9 limits of our planet … and how we’ve raced past 4 of them
Johan Rockström says humanity has already raced past four of the nine boundaries keeping our planet hospitable to modern life. Writer John Carey digs into the “planetary boundary” theory — and why Rockström says his isn’t, actually, a doomsday message.We’ve been lucky, we humans: For many millennia, we’ve been on a pretty stable — and resilient — planet. As our civilizations developed, we’ve transformed the landscape by cutting down forests and growing crops. We’ve created pollution, and driven plants and animals extinct. Yet our planet has kept spinning along, supporting us, more or less stable and in balance. Going forward, scientists have recently proposed, all we need to do is stay within some limits, nine upper boundaries for bad behavior. But of course, being human, we haven’t. In a startling January 2015 paper in Science, Johan Rockström says humanity has already raced past four of the nine boundaries keeping our planet hospitable to modern life. Not to Rockström.
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