Earth Comission (2023): Safe and just Earth system boundaries

Earth Comission (2023): Safe and just Earth system boundaries

The Earth Commission, an international coalition of scientists, warns that life on Earth is threatened by global warming, dwindling freshwater reserves, pollution and a reduction in biodiversity.

Wald Totholz

In their study, published in the journal Nature, the group led by Johan Rockström of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) writes that seven out of eight "safe and fair boundaries" of the Earth system have already been exceeded. In the researchers' view, humans are endangering the stability and resilience of the planet with their current way of life.

The study is based on the concept of planetary boundaries and a safe space for civilisation to act. On a stable Earth, there are feedbacks that cushion disturbances. If this balancing system is sustainably disrupted, there is a threat of existential and irreversible damage, such as an increasing number of deaths, the displacement of people, the loss of food, water or food security, as well as chronic diseases, injuries or malnutrition.

In the case of biodiversity, the researchers see that two limits have already been crossed; for example, requirements for natural vegetation and water levels would not be met. The concept of justice in the new approach encompasses three aspects of justice in the use of the global commons: towards other living beings and ecosystems, towards future generations and towards the globally distributed members of the present generation. According to the study, in order to ensure human well-being, a just global transformation and transformation in the areas of energy, food and cities is necessary, which must also benefit the poor.