A safe operating space for humanity: the role of N and P?

A safe operating space for humanity : Article : Nature.

Posted by Jim:

Today’s issue of Nature contains an interesting article about various parameters of Earth system function that are being impacted by human population expansion and activity and how these have implications for the future ability of Earth to support humans.  Of considerable stoichiometric relevance is the article’s consideration of human impacts on the global N and P cycles.  The article notes that human impacts have already exceeded sustainable impacts for N and are approaching them for P.  This assessment is primarily based on impacts of N and P loading on ocean (and other) ecosystems. The article looks compelling, but I would have like to have seen some consideration of the long-term sustainability of human exploitation of mineral P in light of concerns about “peak phosphorus” I’ve discussed elsewhere.

In any case, an interesting article that everyone should have a look at.  Perhaps we should join the discussion groups that have been created for the piece.

Also notable is that a coauthor is Sander van der Leeuw, here at ASU, and another is Tim Lenton, who was one of the senior external participants at Woodstoich I in Finse.

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