Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet

Steffen, W, Richardson K, Rockstrom J, Cornell SE, Fetzer I, Bennett EM, Biggs R, Carpenter SR, de Vries W, de Wit CA, Folke C, Gerten D, Heinke J, Mace GM, Persson LM, Ramanathan V, Reyers B, Sorlin S.  2015.  Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet. Science. 347:736-+.

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biodiversity loss, climate, critical transitions, early-warning signals, environmental flow requirements, functional diversity, marine-environment, nutrient limitation, safe operating, space, water


The planetary boundaries framework defines a safe operating space for humanity based on the intrinsic biophysical processes that regulate the stability of the Earth system. Here, we revise and update the planetary boundary framework, with a focus on the underpinning biophysical science, based on targeted input from expert research communities and on more general scientific advances over the past 5 years. Several of the boundaries now have a two-tier approach, reflecting the importance of cross-scale interactions and the regional-level heterogeneity of the processes that underpin the boundaries. Two core boundaries-climate change and biosphere integrity-have been identified, each of which has the potential on its own to drive the Earth system into a new state should they be substantially and persistently transgressed.