Climate change signals Earth in danger zone

2015-01-15 22:12


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Oslo - Climate change and high rates of extinctions of animals and plants are pushing the Earth into a danger zone for humanity, a scientific report card about mankind's impact on nature said on Thursday.

An international team of 18 experts, expanding on a 2009 report about "planetary boundaries" for safe human use, also sounded the alarm about clearance of forests and pollution from nitrogen and phosphorus in fertilisers.

"I don't think we've broken the planet but we are creating a much more difficult world," Sarah Cornell, one of the authors at the Stockholm Resilience Centre which led the project as a guide to human exploitation of the Earth, told Reuters.

"Four boundaries are assessed to have been crossed, placing humanity in a danger zone," a statement said of the study in the journal Science, pointing to climate change, species loss, land-use change and fertiliser pollution.

Of a total of nine boundaries assessed, freshwater use, ocean acidification and ozone depletion were judged to be within safe limits. Others, including levels of airborne pollution, were yet to be properly assessed.

The report defined climate change and loss of species as two core areas of concern. Each "has the potential on its own to drive the Earth System into a new state should they be substantially and persistently transgressed," the authors wrote.

Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, are about 397 parts per million in the atmosphere, above 350 ppm that the study set as the boundary for safe use.

Almost 200 governments will meet in Paris in late 2015 to try to agree a deal to limit global warming to avert floods, droughts, heatwaves and rising sea levels blamed on rising emissions of greenhouse gases.

The study said that rates of extinctions of animals and plants, caused by factors ranging from pollution to deforestation, were 10 to 100 times higher than safe levels.

"Transgressing a boundary increases the risk that human activities could inadvertently drive the Earth System into a much less hospitable state," said lead author Will Steffen, of the Stockholm Resilience Centre and the Australian National University, Canberra.

The report expanded definitions of the planetary boundaries set in 2009, making it hard to compare trends.

Read more on:    climate change

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Sniffing out No 2

2016-10-24 16:53 publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.