New Earth Commission Study Says 7 of 8 Climate Red Lines Crossed
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New Earth Commission Study Says 7 of 8 Climate Red Lines Crossed

Seven of eight earth system boundaries (ESBs) that are critical for stability of the planet’s health and survival of species have already been crossed, said a research paper by the Earth Commission published in Nature journal on May 31, suggesting risks posed by climate crisis on humankind.

According to scientists’ evaluation, ESB transgression is spatially widespread, with two or more ESBs already transgressed throughout 52 percent of the land area on the planet and impacting 86 percent of the population. India, along with other South Asian countries, Europe and parts of Africa, is an ESB transgression hotspot, with at least five ESB transgressions occurring in the Himalayan foothills.

The Earth Commission created a set of ESBs for climate, the biosphere, fresh water, nutrients and air pollution at global and sub-global scales. These features were chosen based on the fact that these cover all the major components of the planet (atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, biosphere and cryosphere) and their interconnected processes (carbon, water and nutrient cycles) or “global commons.” These factors, as the report says, “underpin the planet’s life-support systems and, thereby, human well-being on Earth; they have impacts on policy-relevant timescales; they are threatened by human activities; and they could affect Earth system stability and future development globally.”

Climate, functional integrity, and levels of surface water, groundwater, nitrogen, phosphorus, and aerosols are among the seven ESBs that have been breached, said the research paper, Safe and just Earth system boundaries.