Earth now way outside "safe operating space for humanity," says new report

In brighter news today, "Earth is now well outside of the safe operating space for humanity," says a report in the journal Science Advances.

According to the article, there are nine connected systems, or "planetary boundaries" (e.g., climate change, biodiversity, and freshwater and land use), that need to stay in balance in order for the earth to remain human-friendly. And 29 scientists from eight countries have determined that six of these boundaries have been "transgressed."

"We are in very bad shape," said John Rockstrom, the study's co-author.

From AP News:

Earth's climate, biodiversity, land, freshwater, nutrient pollution and "novel" chemicals (human-made compounds like microplastics and nuclear waste) are all out of whack, a group of international scientists said in Wednesday's journal Science Advances. Only the acidity of the oceans, the health of the air and the ozone layer are within the boundaries considered safe, and both ocean and air pollution are heading in the wrong direction, the study said.

These boundaries "determine the fate of the planet," said Rockstrom, a climate scientist. The nine factors have been "scientifically well established" by numerous outside studies, he said.

If Earth can manage these nine factors, Earth could be relatively safe. But it's not, he said. …

The simulations showed "that one of the most powerful means that humanity has at its disposal to combat climate change" is cleaning up its land and saving forests, the study said. Returning forests to late 20th century levels would provide substantial natural sinks to store carbon dioxide instead of the air, where it traps heat, the study said.

University of Michigan environmental studies dean Jonathan Overpeck, who wasn't part of the study, called the study "deeply troubling in its implications for the planet and people should be worried."

And from CNN:

Crossing planetary boundaries does not mean the world has reached a disastrous tipping point. Hitting one does not mean "falling off a cliff," Richardson said. But it is a clear warning signal. …

Simon Lewis, a professor of global change science at University College London in the UK, who was not involved in the research, said the report provides "a strikingly gloomy update on an already alarming picture."

"Humans are destroying biodiversity, changing the climate and polluting our home to such an extent that we've pushed our planet out of the stable conditions that enabled human civilizations to emerge," he told CNN. "It couldn't be a more stark warning," he added.

Andrew Fanning, a visiting research fellow at the University of Leeds in the UK, also not involved in the report, said the planetary boundaries model provides "strong evidence-based support" to policymakers and others to help transform economies and societies to tackle the climate crisis. …

"What scares me is that transgression is increasing for all of the boundaries that were found to be transgressed in 2015," said Richardson, who added, "this isn't getting better."