What are the planetary boundaries?
Since 2009, it has been considered that there are 9 fundamental processes that allow the planet to be habitable. These planetary boundaries are the ones that should govern all actions of human beings, so as not to further damage the balance of the environment.
Thanks to a group of scientists, these planetary boundaries were established, which have thresholds that should not be crossed if we are to preserve the environment and thus the ability of the Earth to support life on it. Unfortunately, several of these thresholds have already been crossed.
Climate change (OVERCOME)
Rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are causing an alarming rise in global temperatures. We have gone from a safe limit of 350 parts per million CO2 in 1988, to well over twice this figure on a regular basis in many of the world's major cities.
Stratospheric ozone depletion
It has been known since 1980 that there is a hole in the ozone layer, which protects the planet from the sun's rays, and because of this the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was generated, thanks to which the ozone layer shows signs of recovery.
New entities (OVER)
One of the less well-defined planetary boundaries are the new entities, which refer to chemicals, materials of all kinds and other harmful substances (such as plastics), as well as natural substances such as heavy metals and radioactive material which are caused by human activities in the environment. - Advertisement - .
Tens of thousands of synthetic substances are released into the environment every day. But the worrying thing is that, for many of them, the medium and long-term effects are unknown. We have learned nothing from the disastrous experiences we have had with hundreds of other substances that were eventually banned when the extent of their damage became clear.
Aerosol air pollution is a scourge to human health, which also influences air circulation systems and the oceans, ultimately affecting the world's climate.
Biogeochemical flows (EXCEEDED)
We have profoundly altered the planet's natural nitrogen and phosphorus cycles by spreading these essential nutrients in excessive amounts over agricultural land, which has severely polluted nearby ecosystems.
CO2 levels in the atmosphere are increasing the acidity of the world' s oceans, posing a serious risk to marine biodiversity and thus to the balance of the global food chain.
Land use change (EXCEEDED)
The conversion of tropical forests to agricultural land and the misuse of soils have a major effect on the climate, due to the impact of atmospheric CO2 concentrations on biodiversity, loss of freshwater, erosion of substrates, etc.
Agriculture, industry, population growth and misuse of water is depleting it, while climate change is altering weather patterns, causing droughts in some areas and floods in others.
Biosphere integrity (EXCEEDED)
The functional integrity of ecosystems is a vital planetary boundary, as we live in an interdependent ecosystem, so from the pollination that enables our crops to the cleanliness of our water and air, we owe it all to plants and animals.
Scientists are concerned about the rapid degradation of biodiversity, loss of ecosystem balance and lack of genetic variety, which could disrupt essential biosphere services.