In his new book, The Human Quest, scientist Johan Rockström and photographer Mattias Klum explore ways that humans can live within the planetary boundaries.
“Humanity needs a paradigm shift,” Rockström tells us. The planetary boundaries, discussed in Part 1 of this interview, define limits to human induced environmental change before we reach an area of uncertainty and irreversible environmental damage. Now, we must learn how to live within these limits to avoid reaching a point of no return.
The paradigm shift is strategic and two-fold: we must preserve natural beauty, which is captured magnificently in The Human Quest by Klum. And, by preserving the planet’s natural beauty we are simultaneously preserving the remaining biodiversity of our landscapes and our ability to produce food, secure fresh water, and live in a stable climate.
Critics have suggested that the planetary boundaries fail to address local and regional boundaries. Let’s take water, for example. Water is a resource which is really only relevant at local or regional levels. Rockström and his team are responding to such critiques. Rockström and his team are working on Climate Boundaries 2.0, which will pair regional boundaries with the global boundaries. In relation to the water boundary, Rockström explains that the boundaries will be reassessed based on the sustainable threshold of water withdrawals at the basin scale. Watch our interview with Rockström above for more details on this approach.
Interviewed by James Clark, Interim Head of Communications at the International Water Management Institute.