VyraNews #17: Planetary Boundaries in Business.

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Planetary Boundaries - they sound like something from a sci-fi novel, don't they?

But what exactly are they, and why should your business care?

Let’s take a crash course in the basics and show you why these concepts are becoming more relevant in the boardroom.

What’s a planetary boundary? How many are there? Who’s responsible?

In 2009, a team of Earth system and environmental scientists, spearheaded by Johan Rockström from the Stockholm Resilience Centre and Will Steffen from the Australian National University, introduced the concept of planetary boundaries.

They didn't just make this stuff up; they identified nine critical areas that are feeling the heat from human activities.

These brilliant minds proposed that these boundaries represent the "do not cross" lines for keeping Earth’s systems stable.

Think of it as the planet's own set of safety instructions.

What are the 9 Planetary Boundaries?

In 2023, and for the first time, all nine planetary boundaries were assessed. Six of the boundaries are now transgressed. Read more here and below.

Planetary Boundary

Specific Target

Potential Consequences if Exceeded

Exceeding in 2023?

Climate Change

CO2 levels below 350 ppm and/or a 1°C change from pre-industrial levels

Increased global warming, extreme weather events, loss of biodiversity


Biodiversity Loss

Fewer than ten extinctions per million species per year

Collapse of ecosystems, loss of services such as pollination and water purification


Biogeochemical Flows

Nitrogen below 62 teragrams/year; Phosphorus below 11 teragrams/year

Eutrophication, algal blooms, dead zones in aquatic environments


Ocean Acidification

Aragonite saturation state above 2.75

Damage to marine life, especially shellfish and coral reefs, affecting biodiversity


Land-System Change

85% of Earth's forests to remain intact

Loss of habitat, increased carbon emissions, disruption of water cycles


Freshwater Use

Less than 4,000 cubic kilometres per year globally

Water scarcity impacting agriculture, drinking supplies, and natural ecosystems


Atmospheric Aerosol Loading

Manage particulate concentration to minimise impacts

Respiratory health issues, alteration in climate patterns, impact on water cycles


Stratospheric Ozone Depletion

Ozone-depleting substances less than 0.275 Dobson units

Increased UV radiation leading to higher rates of skin cancers, crop damage, and disruption of ecosystems


Novel Entities

Avoid releasing new compounds that could impact the Earth system

Pollution, health risks, and unpredictable long-term environmental damage


4 Reasons why Businesses should embrace Planetary Boundaries:

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