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Planet Earth's nine lives: Our planet's limits

What next? If my guide has done its job, you will want to know more about planetary boundaries. You will also want to know what you can do to help change things. I think the most important thing you can do to get to understand as much as you can about what I called Earth's nine lives. So what I've done on this final page of my guide is to give you some resources, mostly videos and web links. Note for younger kidsInformationNot just for adultsThese videos and links have been made by adults for adults. Some of the videos are quite long but there's no reason why you shouldn't have a look. Having read my guide, you'll probably recognise some of the stuff. If you're doing science at school, you'll probably follow most ofthe ideas quite easily. If in doubt, try them out! And a reminder: could you please help me?

Try my Nine Lives Crossword Puzzle All the answers are in this guide...

The planet's nine lives: the planetary boundaries in one image.

This wonderful image comes from Johan Rockström and his team at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm, Sweden. They first published the idea of planetary boundaries in 2009. In this image, the green area in the centre is the safe area. Any human activities which lie inside are fine though of course they must stay there. The red areas flag up danger; the more red, the more danger. You can immediately spot the three problem systems because they're way over the limit. So biodiversity is in really serious trouble. Nitrogen overload isn't much better and neither is climate change. For now, the other systems are inside the safe green zone.

In this video, Johan Rockström explains all about planetary boundaries.

Here's another important video (2012) featuring award-winning environmental writer Mark Lynas. He explains about planetary boundaries and, importantly, what people can do to make things better. He recently wrote a book titled 'The God Species'. In it (and in this video), he points out that humans now have such power over the planet and its systems that they can and must use this power to change the planet for the better, just as if they were all-powerful gods. This will mean, among other things, using new nuclear technologies (like IFRs), geoengineering and genetic engineering.

Mark Lynas: The Nine Planetary Boundaries from The Long Now Foundation on FORA.tv

Johan Rockström and photographer Mattias Klum have launched a beautifully illustrated e-book. This video gives you the basics of the book.


Jon Foley, University of Minnesota, and one of the original team headed by Johan Rockström, introduces planetary boundaries in 3 minutes.

Climate change is causing terrible damage to the natural world. This video explains...

Biodiversity and Climate Change from CBD on Vimeo

The oceans are in trouble. Here are some ocean scientists who explain why.

The Crisis Facing Oceans from Compass Summit on FORA.tv 

Tim Flannery is an Australian environmentalist who has written several excellent books on climate change and sustainable living

Tim Flannery: Here on Earth from National Geographic Live on FORA.tv

“Corporations are the ones gambling our planet away and our governments are running the casino” says lawyer Polly Higgins in her book 'Eradicating Ecocide'.

Polly Higgins: A New Universal Law to Protect Earth from The RSA on FORA.tv

Nathan S Lewis, professor of chemistry at CalTech looks at ways to produce energy from the sun. He's a brilliant speaker!

Reinventing the Leaf: Future Sources of Fuel from Compass Summit on FORA.tv

Jim Hansen heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. He is one of the world's best known climate scientists and worked with Johan Rockström on planetary boundaries.

Scientist Jim Hansen Talks Climate Change from City Arts & Lectures on FORA.tv


And some links:

Ecosystem services Explains how people depend utterly on Earth's ecosystems and yet they are damaging or destroying them

The Human Quest A website about the e-book

Tipping towards the unknown The original source of the critical planetary boundaries idea. Crossing the boundaries could be catastrophic, say the researchers. But there is hope.

A safe operating space for humanity The original Nature (2009) paper on the principles of planetary boundaries by Rockström and 28 other scientists from around the world. Unfortunately, you have to pay to read it. But you can see it at Ecology and Society.

The nine planetary boundaries Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden, and where it all began


The End

Good luck!

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