ONEPLANET Sustainability Review

Sustainability Research, Reviews and Signposting

Linking Planetary Boundaries to earlier sustainable development concepts

Links between the Planetary Boundary concept and earlier arguments within sustainable development are evident in the Limits to Growth (LTG) debate, with several key concepts highlighted in Buttel et. al.

Surprisingly, links can be found as far back as Malthus in his 1798 exposition of population and consumption issues, highlighting the challenges of exponential population growth and the associated use of limited resources.

In Turner et. al., among others, Global Environmental Change also mirrors current debates in Planetary Boundaries.  With the two types of environmental change, systemic and cumulative, we can see the need to define scales of analysis, rates of change, locations and magnitude; these logically extend to understanding limits and boundaries of change in ‘the biogeochemical flows of the geosphere-biosphere’ to an extent.

Planetary Boundaries also links to Earth System Science, which itself can be seen as a branch of Sustainability Science, providing a whole-system approach to understanding planetary systems and their scale, location, magnitude and boundaries.

Furthermore the synergies of human-environmental vulnerabilities are now starting to be characterised as issues of human security, manifesting as threats to security, economic change, climate change…

To illustrate some of the connections, I’ve whipped up a quick diagram of obviously limited completeness.

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This entry was posted on 3 November 2012 by in Environmental Sustainability.

Part of the Problem? or Part of the Solution?

Rampant consumerism.
Widespread unsustainable lifestyles.
Unsustainable business practices.
Damaging and unsustainable travel and transport.
Extensive environmental degradation and biodiversity loss.
...
These are some of the problems we face.
...
Energy crisis.
Financial crisis.
Uneducated and un-empowered.
Environmental damage.
Food and water shortage.
Climate change.
...
Are you part of the problem,
Or are you part of the solution?

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