WHERE ARE WE NOW?
The planet has existed for over 4 billion years and during that time there have been many fluctuations in it’s state. The temperatures would vary between 10 degrees Celsius (that’s a lot!), but about 11 000 years ago a warmer period began where the temperature stabilised ( meaning the average mean temperature of the planet fluctuated between +/- 1 degree celsius). This period of time is called the holocene. The stable temperatures gave us a stable planet, where we had predictable seasons and stable sea levels, making it possible for civilisation to flourish. Of course humans took full advantage of this and we built the world we now . The holocene is the only state of the planet that we know that can support the modern world as we know it, but the problem is we are now moving into a different phase, the Anthropocence.
Yes, the party is over! The anthropocence is the recent period in earth’s history where human activity has been the dominant influence on the climate and the environment. We are in fact destabilising the planet! To understand the kind of impact we have on earth and the areas that are most vulnerable, In 2009, Johan Rockström led a group of 28 internationally renowned scientists to identify nine processes that regulate the stability and resilience of the Earth. The scientists proposed planetary boundaries within which humanity can continue to develop and thrive. We are already in the danger zone for some of the boundaries, but change is possible. We need to act quickly and on a scale that we’ve not seen before as the next 10 years are critical.
Business as usual is no longer and option and we have an opportunity to develop fair and equitable societies snd environments that all life on earth can enjoy. By embracing resilience (the ability to deal with change and continue to develop), understanding social ecological systems (the fact people and nature are interlinked) and living within and maintaining planetary boundaries to avoid tipping points where change is no longer possible.
Environmental and social factors need to work together, a sustainable world is one that is sustainable for all people on earth. Renegade economist Kate Raworth developed Doughnut economics combining the concept of planetary boundaries with the complementary concept of social boundaries.
Sustainable development was described in 1987 as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. At the moment we might not have future generations if action isnt taken now.