Planetary boundary・Great acceleration

Planetary Boundary

Some environmental issues are approaching the limits of the earth. The earth is reaching dangerous limits in material cycles, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, loss of genetic biodiversity, and plastic waste are reaching dangerous levels.

Nature has the ability to adapt to some changes in the environment, but there are limits to this. When such limits are exceeded, they cannot be restored and may lead to unforeseen and permanent changes. Environmental problems that are close to their limits, or tipping points, which require particular attention and measures.

Planetary boundaries

Source:SRC (2023)

Great Acceleration

Looking at the various indicators of environmental problems, they all seem to follow a similar curve as is shown here. Similarly, indicators of the state of human development, such as population growth, GDP, electricity supply, water use, transportation and communications, and international travel have increased drastically since about the 1950s.

Earth system change

Source:Steffen et al. (2015)

Changes in socio-economic activities

Source:Steffen et al. (2015)

The rapid changes insociety and nature that have occurred since the 1950s are called as the Great Acceleration.

(Written by: Yuko Onishi)


Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC), 2023.

Steffen, W. et al., 2015, Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet, Science, 347(6223), DOI: 10.1126/science.1259855.