The limits of ecosystem stability have been exceeded: humans are preparing for a major challenge

Nature can no longer tolerate human encroachment. Scientists from Germany, Sweden, and Holland published an article in Nature in which they calculated the limits of instability threatened by human activities. It turns out that seven of the eight thresholds have already been exceeded. These are the global average temperature, the state of the biosphere, the hydrosphere, the cryosphere and the related cycles of carbon, water and nutrients. Only one “apex” remains unexceeded: air pollution by aerosols.

The situation with the climate is particularly alarming. The critical threshold is considered to be a temperature increase of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, but by now it has reached 1.2 degrees Celsius. It is now clear that it will not be possible to fit within the required limits, which means that mankind must prepare for serious trials.

Biodiversity is also decreasing 100-1000 times faster than it was naturally occurring in nature. This makes biosystems and ecosystems more vulnerable to climate change. Today the area of the natural biosystem covers 45-50% of the Earth’s area, while the safe boundary is recognized as 50-60%.

More than eight times the natural inflow of phosphorus to the oceans is exceeded. If the increase continues, the concentration of oxygen in the oceans will decrease and, as a consequence, mass extinction of animals will increase.

“We are reaching the limits of the biophysical capacity of the Earth system and are approaching tipping points, seeing increasingly irreversible damage to life-support systems on a global scale,” said Swedish professor Johan Rockström, one of the study’s lead authors.

The situation is alarming, but not hopeless. There are many things we can do to stop the further deterioration of the planet’s ecosystem. For example, we can switch to renewable energy sources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce consumption of resources and use them more efficiently.

“We need to act quickly and decisively to preserve our planet for future generations,” says Professor Rockström.

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