↑ Watch Global Sustainability and Planetary Boundaries.
This is a new idea—approach our stewardship of the planet as a doctor approaches the health of a human being, by defining and monitoring the most important vital signs. In a human being, that would include:
- Respiratory Rate
- Blood pressure
- Blood glucose level
Now the Stockholm Resilience Center has developed a set of vital signs for the Earth—with boundaries established in each category, just as we have boundaries established for our own vital signs.
Nine planetary vital signs
- Climate change (includes temperature)
- Biosphere integrity (maintaining or losing biodiversity via species extinction)
- Stratospheric ozone level (vital component of the atmosphere)
- Ocean acidification level (proper level vital for coral reef and ocean health)
- Biogeochemical flows (phosphorus and nitrogen cycles)
- Land use and health (includes deforestation and desertification levels)
- Freshwater flow and use (clear lakes, rivers meeting the sea, aquifers not depleted, wetlands maintained, etc)
- Atmospheric aerosol level (microscopic particles in the atmosphere that affect climate and living organisms)
- Presence of novel entities (e.g. organic pollutants, radioactive materials, nanomaterials, and micro-plastics).
Notice climate change is only one of the vital signs—as scientists, they’re viewing climate change as a category of data (temperatures, ice sheet melting rates, etc) that indicates a larger systemic problem.
As the Resilience Center points out, the larger systemic problem has a lot to do with our collective mindset about how our economy and society should work here on Earth. For more details, visit the Stockholm Resilience Center site for info-graphics and videos.