Reports indicate that we have crossed six of the nine boundaries within which human life on Earth will remain possible for future generations.
The boundaries of the planet were discussed on May 9 as part of the Green Office Sustainability Day at Leiden University.
Planetary boundary is a term for Earth system processes that contain environmental boundaries, proposed in 2009 by a group of Earth system and environmental scientists.
The nine planetary boundaries include climate change, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, biochemical processes, water security, land use, ozone depletion, aerosols, and chemical pollution.
According to the latest reports, six of the nine limits have already been exceeded. Violation of planetary boundaries increases the risk of sudden or irreversible large-scale environmental changes.
Systematic changes required
Radical changes are needed to keep the Earth habitable.
In a keynote presentation, Jan Willem Ehrismann, Professor of Environmental Sustainability, said that systemic changes are needed in food, energy and how we live and consume. After all, all the boundaries of the planet are interconnected.
For example, exceeding the nitrogen content limit affects biodiversity and climate.
In addition to planetary boundaries, Ehresmann also emphasized the importance of social boundaries, including education, social equality, and healthcare.
Planetary and social boundaries influence each other, and if we want to save a habitable Earth, they need to be addressed as comprehensively as possible.
One approach that can help save life on Earth is to let communities find their own solutions locally.
Ehresmann has direct experience with some of the farmers on Schiermonnikoog.
Polder Lab, part of the university’s Livable Planet program, is a place where farmers and citizens work together to learn how to manage peatlands sustainably and profitably. “You see, communities often achieve more than their original goal,” Eresman said. “There is hope if we hold communities accountable for themselves.”