Planetary boundaries:exploring the safe operating space for humanity

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Copyright © 2009 by the author(s). Published here under license by the Resilience Alliance.
Rockström, J., W. Steffen, K. Noone, Å. Persson, F. S. Chapin, III, E. Lambin, T. M. Lenton, M. Scheffer,C. Folke, H. Schellnhuber, B. Nykvist, C. A. De Wit, T. Hughes, S. van der Leeuw, H. Rodhe, S. Sörlin, P.
K. Snyder, R. Costanza, U. Svedin, M. Falkenmark, L. Karlberg, R. W. Corell, V. J. Fabry, J.Hansen, B.
Walker, D. Liverman, K. Richardson, P. Crutzen, and J. Foley. 2009. Planetary boundaries:exploring the
safe operating space for humanity. Ecology and Society 14(2): 32. [online] URL:http://www.
ecologyandsociety.org/vol14/iss2/art32/
Research
Planetary Boundaries: Exploring the Safe Operating Space for Humanity
Johan Rockström 1,2, Will Steffen 1,3, Kevin Noone 1,4, Åsa Persson1,2, F. Stuart III Chapin 5, Eric Lambin 6,
Timothy M. Lenton 7, Marten Scheffer 8, Carl Folke 1,9, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber 10,11, Björn Nykvist 1,2,
Cynthia A. de Wit 4, Terry Hughes 12, Sandervan der Leeuw 13, Henning Rodhe 14, Sverker Sörlin 1,15,
Peter K. Snyder 16, Robert Costanza 1,17, Uno Svedin 1, Malin Falkenmark 1,18, Louise Karlberg 1,2,
Robert W. Corell 19, Victoria J. Fabry 20,James Hansen 21, Brian Walker 1,22, Diana Liverman 23,24,
Katherine Richardson 25, Paul Crutzen 26, and Jonathan Foley 27
ABSTRACT. Anthropogenic pressures on the Earth System have reached a scalewhere abrupt global
environmental change can no longer be excluded. We propose a new approach to global sustainability in
which we define planetary boundaries within which we expect that humanitycan operate safely.
Transgressing one or more planetary boundaries may be deleterious or even catastrophic due to the risk of
crossing thresholds that will trigger non-linear, abrupt environmentalchange within continental- to
planetary-scale systems. We have identified nine planetary boundaries and, drawing upon current scientific
understanding, we propose quantifications for seven of them....
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