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  1. Abstract

    The stability and resilience of the Earth system and human well-being are inseparably linked1–3, yet their interdependencies are generally under-recognized; consequently, they are often treated independently4,5. Here, we use modelling and literature assessment to quantify safe and just Earth system boundaries (ESBs) for climate, the biosphere, water and nutrient cycles, and aerosols at global and subglobal scales. We propose ESBs for maintaining the resilience and stability of the Earth system (safe ESBs) and minimizing exposure to significant harm to humans from Earth system change (a necessary but not sufficient condition for justice)4. The stricter of the safe or just boundaries sets the integrated safe and just ESB. Our findings show that justice considerations constrain the integrated ESBs more than safety considerations for climate and atmospheric aerosol loading. Seven of eight globally quantified safe and just ESBs and at least two regional safe and just ESBs in over half of global land area are already exceeded. We propose that our assessment provides a quantitative foundation for safeguarding the global commons for all people now and into the future.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 6, 2024
  2. null (Ed.)
  3. All species have an environmental niche, and despite technological advances, humans are unlikely to be an exception. Here, we demonstrate that for millennia, human populations have resided in the same narrow part of the climatic envelope available on the globe, characterized by a major mode around ∼11 °C to 15 °C mean annual temperature (MAT). Supporting the fundamental nature of this temperature niche, current production of crops and livestock is largely limited to the same conditions, and the same optimum has been found for agricultural and nonagricultural economic output of countries through analyses of year-to-year variation. We show that in a business-as-usual climate change scenario, the geographical position of this temperature niche is projected to shift more over the coming 50 y than it has moved since 6000 BP. Populations will not simply track the shifting climate, as adaptation in situ may address some of the challenges, and many other factors affect decisions to migrate. Nevertheless, in the absence of migration, one third of the global population is projected to experience a MAT >29 °C currently found in only 0.8% of the Earth’s land surface, mostly concentrated in the Sahara. As the potentially most affected regions are among the poorest in the world, where adaptive capacity is low, enhancing human development in those areas should be a priority alongside climate mitigation. 
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  4. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Biodiversity projections with uncertainty estimates under different climate, land-use, and policy scenarios are essential to setting and achieving international targets to mitigate biodiversity loss. Evaluating and improving biodiversity predictions to better inform policy decisions remains a central conservation goal and challenge. A comprehensive strategy to evaluate and reduce uncertainty of model outputs against observed measurements and multiple models would help to produce more robust biodiversity predictions. We propose an approach that integrates biodiversity models and emerging remote sensing and in-situ data streams to evaluate and reduce uncertainty with the goal of improving policy-relevant biodiversity predictions. In this article, we describe a multivariate approach to directly and indirectly evaluate and constrain model uncertainty, demonstrate a proof of concept of this approach, embed the concept within the broader context of model evaluation and scenario analysis for conservation policy, and highlight lessons from other modeling communities. 
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  5. null (Ed.)
  6. Rising oceanic and atmospheric oxygen levels through time have been crucial to enhanced habitability of surface Earth environments. Few redox proxies can track secular variations in dissolved oxygen concentrations ([O2]) around threshold levels for metazoan survival in the upper ocean. We present an extensive compilation of iodine to calcium ratios (I/Ca) in marine carbonates. Our record supports a major rise in atmospheric pO2 at ~400 million years ago (Ma), and reveals a step-change in the oxygenation of the upper ocean to relatively sustainable near-modern conditions at ~200 Ma. An Earth system model demonstrates that a shift in organic matter remineralization to greater depths, which may have been due to increasing size and biomineralization of eukaryotic plankton, likely drove the I/Ca signals at ~200 Ma 
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  7. Abstract

    Scenarios that limit global warming to below 2 °C by 2100 assume significant land-use change to support large-scale carbon dioxide (CO2) removal from the atmosphere by afforestation/reforestation, avoided deforestation, and Biomass Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS). The more ambitious mitigation scenarios require even greater land area for mitigation and/or earlier adoption of CO2removal strategies. Here we show that additional land-use change to meet a 1.5 °C climate change target could result in net losses of carbon from the land. The effectiveness of BECCS strongly depends on several assumptions related to the choice of biomass, the fate of initial above ground biomass, and the fossil-fuel emissions offset in the energy system. Depending on these factors, carbon removed from the atmosphere through BECCS could easily be offset by losses due to land-use change. If BECCS involves replacing high-carbon content ecosystems with crops, then forest-based mitigation could be more efficient for atmospheric CO2removal than BECCS.

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