The highly anticipated updated concept of planetary boundaries has now been released by an international team of researchers in the Journal Science (16 January 2015). The new assessments and quantifications place climate change and the newly-termed “biosphere integrity” as core planetary boundaries – both of which have been crossed.
Alarmingly, a total of four of the nine planetary boundaries have now been crossed due to anthropogenic causes. Crossing any of the boundaries increases the risks to current and future societies of destabilising the Earth System, potentially through sudden and catastrophic changes.
The internationally agreed upper limit of 2 degrees for climate change lies far beyond the climate change boundary, making such a target already a risky aim for humanity. The 2015 climate negotiations must therefore ensure adherence to such a dangerous target as an absolute minimum, which makes even the most successful envisaged outcome of such negotiations potentially insufficient to stem runaway change to our Earth System.
Follow this link for a detailed account of the updated concept and watch the PBI website for comments on the implications of the concept for upcoming negotiations.