A3 Book section, chapters in research books

The Concept of Planetary Boundaries

Publication Details
Authors: Kahiluoto Helena
Editors of book: Ferranti, P.; Berry, E.M.; Anderson, J.R.
Publishing place: Netherlands
Publication year: 2019
Language: English
Title of parent publication: Encyclopedia of Food Security and Sustainability
Volume number: 1
ISBN: 9780128126875
JUFO-Level of this publication: 2
Open Access: Not an Open Access publication


Global societal changes have continuously accelerated along with population and economic growth. These changes increasingly change the environment. Planetary boundaries are upper tolerable limits for anthropogenic changes in the functioning of the Earth system. They are ‘limits to growth’ but rather in functional terms than in terms of resource-sufficiency, even if often caused by excessive resource use. A familiar example of the value-added by the functional approach of the planetary boundary concept is
that the critical threshold in use of fossil energy is set by the impact on climate rather than by the sufficiency of fossil energy resources. Food supply within the planetary boundaries is also limited more by reducing the excessive phosphorus flows than by the reserves or population growth. Planetary boundaries provide a science-based quantification for sustainability. They quantify the safe ecological space for humans, but do not take position to social sustainability. Equality is in the core of social sustainability. The distance from the planetary boundaries varies spatially ecologically, but also due to historical differences in wealth. Therefore, redistribution of resources as well as of food, energy and water facilitates the return to, and keeping within, the planetary boundaries. Immediate reduction of the use of resources for bridging the gap to planetary boundaries, without any other changes in the current food system, would collapse food security. There are, however, numerous potential changes in food systems to secure food within the safe and just space for humanity. Examples are reduction in animal-based food in diet or decoupling food from land use through insect, algae and microbe food, avoidance of waste, recycling residues and sequestering carbon
in agricultural systems.

Last updated on 2020-20-03 at 10:03

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