According to Dr. Glen Barry, in a statement just released to the press, humans have already exceeded our limits for a life-sustaining biosphere and warns of impending terrestrial ecosystem collapse, unless we take immediate and decisive corrective measures.
We are already consuming half our land mass with industry, logging, mining, and other harmful activities.
The critical limit is 66% of land mass remaining as natural, wilderness and agricultural use, yet we have already eaten up 50%.
This is something many have have felt and known intuitively, hence the rising global panic, for decades. We are now horrified to find out we were right.
Terrestrial ecosystem loss as the tenth ecological planetary boundary (along with climate change, biodiversity loss, and nitrogen deposition which have already been exceeded, and six others nearing the limit). It is proposed that 66% of Earth’s land – 44% as intact natural ecosystems and 22% as agro-ecological buffers – must remain intact to sustain the biosphere. This would require ending industrial primary forest logging and restoring old-growth forests to reconnect fragmented landscapes and bioregions. It is necessary to remain within planetary boundaries to ensure humanity continues to be surrounded by a healthy natural environment adequate to sustain the biosphere as well as local livelihoods and well-being.
His alarm is more than justified, as we are considering rolling back crucial environmental protection and endangered species laws, which are meant to benefit and protect all life on Earth, ourselves included, in favor of pandering to selfish, greedy profiteers who push to get their way no matter what the cost to the rest of us and our precious, oh-so-fragile living planet.
Dr. Barry proposes:
A new planetary boundary threshold: “…that across scales 60 percent of terrestrial ecosystems must remain, setting the boundary at 66 percent as a precaution, to maintain key biogeochemical processes that sustain the biosphere and for ecosystems to remain the context for human endeavors. Strict protection is proposed for 44 percent of global land, 22 percent as agro-ecological buffers, and 33 percent as zones of sustainable human use.”
There is hope, but we have to unite now, immediately, and globally, with no hesitation and with no politicking and no downplaying (expect refuting arguments and rebuttals from politicians and the industries to whom they kowtow) by special interests.
This is our mutual futures, our children's future and, basically, the future of all recognizable life on Earth.
The abstract can be purchased (free to media) through Dr. Barry's journal article or through his press release.