Pushing the Boundaries of the Planet

There’s a limit to how much you can push something. For example, while computers may be high tech and seem to be capable of anything, running fifty different programs at once might be too much and result in a crash. This applies to the planet as well. But what happens when you push the planet too far? Well, we’re about to find out.

In a recently published paper in Science Advances, scientists have found that of the nine planetary boundaries that are needed to sustain the earth, six of them have crossed the boundary of being safe and of these six, four are in the high-risk zone.

But what are these boundaries? One such example is biogeochemical flows, which represents how elements flow through the environment such as carbon, nitrogen, and compounds like water. The boundary level for the flow of phosphorus is 11 Tg (tera-grams) per year from freshwater to the ocean. Currently this flow is estimated to be at 22 Tg a year. This increase can result in a decrease of dissolved oxygen, which will affect aquatic life.

Another one of these boundaries is the well-known climate change. The planetary boundary for the amount of C02 is set at 350 ppm (parts per million). As of now, it is 417 ppm. This extra C02 causes the global temperature to rise and the planet to get warmer.

The other boundaries that have been crossed are land system changes, biosphere integrity, freshwater changes, and novel entities. If I had the space, I would discuss these as well, but the bottom line is that the planet is not doing well.

Will these boundaries be uncrossed? That entirely depends on how we react.

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