“Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene” written by Will Steffen and many others, explores four main questions about the future of our planet due to the current ecological crisis. The first inquires about a threshold of the Earth that if crossed, could lead to a destabilization in the range of increasing temperature, and the second asks where that threshold may be if one exists. The third takes this idea of a threshold further and investigates that if that threshold is crossed, what are some possible “implications […] for the wellbeing of human societies”, and the final query involves thinking about ways to prevent society from reaching the threshold and possibilities of maintaining “interglacial-like conditions”.
It was determined that a two-degree Celsius rise in temperature is the threshold for Earth and if it is crossed, could result in a Hothouse Earth with even higher temperatures and sea levels. If consistent efforts are not made to prevent this from happening and keep the Earth stabilized, then this is likely to be the result and increase the “risk that positive feedbacks could play an important role in determining the Earth System’s trajectory”, meaning that the Earth also has to learn to fight back against the environmental deterioration that is occurring and once the threshold is crossed.
The article emphasizes that the answer to avoiding the Earth crossing the irreversible threshold is that humanity needs to work towards a more cooperative relationship with the Earth and be less dominate. If this is not done, then the Earth may become “uncontrollable and dangerous” with increased “risks for health, economies, political stability” and “the habitability of the planet for humans”. For example, two major aspects of human life are under grave danger on the Hothouse Earth: “agricultural production and water supplies”.
Therefore, it is important that humanity recognizes and is educated on the risk of raising the Earth’s temperature by one more degree Celsius. Once everyone understands the dangers of the path of the current degradation of the planet, people will be more willing to work together towards the common goal of saving the Earth. This would result in humans being more supportive and respectful towards the Earth and hopefully stabilize the planet.