Planetary Boundaries. Drawing the Red Lines

Escrito el 24 abril 2011 por Jesus Guerro en General

You are not able to manage what you are not able measure.

This well known managerial premise has been transferred to the concept of Planetary Sustainability in order to make the transformation possible.

 Warnings about the risks of global threads, particularly climate change are present in our lives, beating our conscious day after day. However most of of them are underestimated for a big portion of economic and political powers.

They defend themselves claiming “Bring me Data, bring me guidelines, bring me Limits!!”.

The Stern Report, a low suspected economist of being an anarchist environmentalist or so, even having been commissioned by the British Government, supposed a loud knock that strongly echoed in all those media agents usually deaf, and often very reluctant to “green” concern matters.

This Report made it clear that climate change was real and terrible consequence, and was agreed by 2500 scientists from around the world.

By contrast, and it is fair to underline, there are also scientists who believe that conclusions have been greatly exaggerated claiming that actual data we have does not support a significant temperature rise in the last fifteen years, considering the fact that we are in a warm period within regular cycles.

Nevertheless, this report has been considered as consensus science and a crucial stone to build a new future.

The Global Carbon Project, a major international program, said that past estimations had been extremely overwhelmed: between 2000 and 2010, increased CO2 in the atmosphere followed a trend faster even than the worst scenario. It is possible that the economic crisis will contribute to reduce this rate of increase, although many experts doubt that .

Growing fears, moreover appear from nature effects. Two examples: the reduction of Arctic Ice in summer reduces the ground surface and increases the uptake of solar radiation, increasing the temperature. At the same time, melting permafrost at high latitudes could release huge quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas more twenty times more potent than CO2.

What are the limits that should not pass to avoid disaster and self-accelerating process?

This question has been recently formulated by a group of twenty leading scientists, led by Johan Rockström, University of Stockholm. Their proposals have been called “Planetary Boundaries”.

They have opened an important debate. The idea that moves them is that Human Influence has reached such proportions that can not be excluded out of global change anymore.

To avoid this going beyond, the report suggests providing some indicators to measure where the Red Line should not be ever overcome.

They detected nine boundaries and seven of them put figures to the thresholds that should be respected. These seven are related to:

–         Concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere

–         Ocean acidification

–         Stratospheric ozone concentration

–         Nitrogen fixation and

–         Discharge of phosphorus to the sea

–         Drinking Water Consumption

–         The proportion of cultivated land, and loss of biodiversity.

More difficult to measure:

–         The aerosol loading

–         Chemical pollution.

These authors believe that we have already violated three of these thresholds (CO2, biodiversity loss, nitrogen) and that all these limits are interdependent, so that one may exceed drag to move others as well.

Therefore intend to work on this new concept of planetary boundaries to define the security framework for human societies may not only be a  Map for Survive but a Guideline to Political Powers responding to its continuous claim of establishing Measures to establishing Clear Objectives.

 Now they have the Data they claimed.

Now the question is.. Is it going to change anything in their Management Style?


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