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Human activity jeopardising Earth’s life-support systems

The Earth’s life-support systems are facing greater risks and uncertainties than ever before, with most major safety limits already crossed as a result of planet-wide human interventions, according to a scientific study released on Wednesday.

In a “health check” for the entire planet published in the Science Advances journal, an international team of 29 experts found that the Earth is now “well outside of the safe operating space for humanity” due to human activity.

The study, expanding on a 2015 report, said the world had now crossed six of nine “planetary boundaries” – the safe limits for human life in areas such as the integrity of the biosphere, climate change and the use and availability of fresh water.

In all, it said, eight of the nine boundaries are under more pressure than in the 2015 assessment, with only the sky’s ozone layer improving – raising the risk of dramatic changes in the Earth’s living conditions.


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