Twenty of the world´s leading scientists and experts have gathered at the 2008 Tällberg Forum to begin identifying the boundaries that will keep us safe from the adverse effects of climate change. Keeping within these boundaries will act as a safety barrier for sustainable human development.
- We rush towards boundaries that, if we cross them, will lead to irreversible disasters. We´re talking about sea level increases of several meters, a collapse of agricultural systems in dry regions, a total loss of coral reefs and fishing resources, and the dehydration of the Amazonas. Global leaders have to realize that we cannot negotiate with nature. We need to revise our own societal systems, said Johan Rockström, head of Stockholm Environment Institute and Stockholm Resilience Centre at the Stockholm University.
Prototyping a model for an optimal Copenhagen treaty
Earlier this week, in an unusual move for scientists, some of the group signed advertisements in leading international papers, such as the New York Times and International Herald Tribune, highlighting one important boundary: 350 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Additional boundaries that the group presented today were freshwater consumption, stratospheric ozone depletion and ocean acidification.
- Our work here at Tällberg Forum links to other efforts, specifically the Copenhagen process in 2009. At Tällberg, we will use these boundaries as input when we prototype a model for an optimal Copenhagen treaty, said Bo Ekman, founder of Tällberg Forum and chairman of Tällberg Foundation.
What are the boundaries?
In the first meeting of the group of world-leading scientists, a list of about ten possible Planetary Boundaries was produced. These address the issues:
- Climate change
- Stratospheric ozone depletion
- Ocean acidification
- Nutrient input to oceans (phosphorous)
- Aerosols in the atmosphere (influencing climate change)
- Interfering with the global nitrogen cycle
- Terrestrial land use
- Freshwater consumption
The group is also considering whether it is possible to define boundaries at the planetary level in the fields of terrestrial biodiversity, chemicals dispersion, and management of marine ecosystems.
Who are the participants?
The twenty researchers and experts that take part in the project of defining planetary boundaries are:
- Tariq Banuri, Stockholm Environment Institute, Boston
- Robert W. Corell, The H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, US
- Robert Costanza, Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, University of Vermont
- Bo Ekman, Tällberg Foundation, Sweden
- Victoria J. Fabry, California State University San Marcos, US
- Carl Folke, Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics and Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden
- James Hansen, NASA Goddard Institute of Space Science, US
- Eric Lambin, University of Louvain, Belgium
- Martin Lees, The Club of Rome, Germany
- Tim Lenton, University of East Anglia, UK
- Diana Liverman, Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University, UK
- Catherine McMullen, UNEP Division of Early Warning and Assessment, Nairobi
- Kevin Noone, International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) Secretariat, Sweden
- Johan Rockström, Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholms University/Stockholm Environment Institute
- Marten Scheffer, Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management Group, Wageningen University
- Jasper Sky, Global Thermostat Project
- Will Steffen, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Australia
- Uno Svedin, Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (Formas)
- Sverker Sörlin, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
- David Wasdell, Meridian Programme, UK
- Anders Wijkman, Member of European Parliament