New Science Suggests More Land-Based Ecosystems Lost than Biosphere Can Bear

PlanetaryBoundaryTerrestrialEcosystemAn important scientific journal article published today finds that 66% of Earth’s land area must be maintained as natural and agro-ecological ecosystems to sustain a livable environment. Yet about 50% have already been lost, threatening global biosphere collapse. In describing the paper, author Dr. Glen Barry suggests the Ebola epidemic, California drought, and Middle East revolutions indicate planetary boundaries have been exceeded.

Read Scientific Paper Terrestrial Ecosystem Loss and Biosphere Collapse by Dr. Glen Barry – View Once for Personal Use

August 5, 2014
Contact: Dr. Glen Barry, 608 770 0782, DrGlenBarry@EcoInternet.org

Citation: Barry, G. (2014), “Terrestrial ecosystem loss and biosphere collapse”, Management of Environmental Quality, Vol. 25 No. 5, pp. 542-563. Abstract

(Madison, WI) – New science finds that two-thirds of Earth’s land-based ecosystems must be protected to sustain the biosphere long-term. Yet about one-half of Earth’s natural ecosystems have already been lost. The scientific review article by Dr. Glen Barry – entitled “Terrestrial ecosystem loss and biosphere collapse” – was published today in the international journal “Management of Environmental Quality”.

The paper proposes terrestrial ecosystem loss as the tenth ecological planetary boundary (along with climate change, biodiversity loss, and nitrogen deposition which have already been exceeded, and six others nearing the limit). It is proposed that 66% of Earth’s land – 44% as intact natural ecosystems and 22% as agro-ecological buffers – must remain intact to sustain the biosphere. This would require ending industrial primary forest logging and restoring old-growth forests to reconnect fragmented landscapes and bioregions. It is necessary to remain within planetary boundaries to ensure humanity continues to be surrounded by a healthy natural environment adequate to sustain the biosphere as well as local livelihoods and well-being.

“It is my hope this paper illustrates the absolute necessity of protecting and restoring large, connected old-growth forests and other natural ecosystems, buffered by agro-ecological ecosystems, to ensure Earth remains habitable. The emerging Ebola epidemic, California drought, and Middle East civil strife are all indicative of what occurs when planetary ecological boundaries remain unrecognized and are surpassed,” states Dr. Barry.

“For the future of the human family and all life, all necessary actions must be taken to protect natural ecosystems, in order to avert biosphere collapse and achieve global ecological sustainability.”

Dr. Barry is an internationally recognized political ecologist, data scientist, and writer living in Madison, and near Green Bay, Wisconsin. He is well-known within the environmental community as a leading global ecological visionary, public intellectual, and environmental policy critic. The abstract can be found, and the paper purchased here: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/MEQ-06-2013-0069 (contact the author for a copy to report upon).

### MORE ###

The paper proposes the first measurable and spatially explicit terrestrial ecosystem loss threshold as part of planetary boundary science. What ecological science knows about biodiversity and old-growth forest loss, abrupt climate change, and ecosystem collapse is reviewed. It is suggested patterns of habitat fragmentation identified in ecosystems and landscapes – that ecological systems “percolate” to a new simplified state and often collapse when ~40% are lost, and noting the critical role of habitat connectivity – also hold true for the biosphere (the sum total of global ecosystems).

Building upon the planetary boundary scientific tradition, the scientific purpose of the journal article “is to propose a measurable terrestrial ecosystem boundary to answer the question: what extent of landscapes, bioregions, continents, and the global Earth System must remain as connected and intact core ecological areas and agro-ecological buffers to sustain local and regional ecosystem services as well as the biosphere commons?”

The paper proposes a new planetary boundary threshold: “…that across scales 60 percent of terrestrial ecosystems must remain, setting the boundary at 66 percent as a precaution, to maintain key biogeochemical processes that sustain the biosphere and for ecosystems to remain the context for human endeavors. Strict protection is proposed for 44 percent of global land, 22 percent as agro-ecological buffers, and 33 percent as zones of sustainable human use.”

Excerpts of the paper’s conclusion include: “It is prudent not to dismiss the possibility that the Earth System – the biosphere – could die if critical thresholds are crossed… Humanity’s well-being depends upon complex ecosystems that support life on our planet, yet we are consuming the biophysical foundation of civilization… Scientists need to take greater latitude in proposing solutions that lie outside the current political paradigms and sovereign powers… By not considering revolutionary change, we dismiss all options outside the dominant growth-based oligarchies”. Dr. Barry goes on to propose a revolutionary global carbon tax to “establish and protect large and connected core ecological areas, buffers, and agro-ecological transition zones throughout all of Earth’s bioregions.”

### ENDS ###

[1] Rockstrom et al (2009a), “A safe operating space for humanity”, Nature, Vol. 461 No. 7263.

For more information and how to support Dr. Glen Barry’s pioneering work in political ecology please visit: http://EcoInternet.org/

You may also like...

24 Responses

  1. Dr Bob Rich says:

    Glen, you are absolutely right. We must do everything to work for a miracle — because nothing but a miracle will work.

    My consolation is that there are billions of schools in the universe. When the students burn this one down, we can meet somewhere else.

    🙂
    Bob

  2. Susan says:

    Thank you for your work, Dr. Barry. This is so tragically disturbing. I feel so ashamed of the way humans have treated and abused our beautiful planet, sadly, mostly for greed or due to ignorance. I appreciate your clarion calls and continued warnings.
    Susan

    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Susan, you diagnosis of the disease is exactly right. What we need is to change the global culture so it encourages and fosters what is good in human nature: compassion, cooperation, decency. The current culture rewards greed and aggression. Do have a look around at http://wp.me/P3Xihq-1

      🙂
      Bob

  3. Anton says:

    dear dr barry

    I read your paper “Global Ecosystem Collaps”, and I fully agree.
    my intension is to send you information about the problemsolution which I developped during the last 2 decades. it is called NatureCulture as the reintegration of human world into nature based on natures wisdom/ ecosophy!! enclosed you find my summary from the Green World Forum 2013 & 2014 based on my book NaturKultur in german.
    you can enclose it in your homepage,
    I send more informations if you want…..
    best regards
    anton

  4. Sommer Marc says:

    This is the price we pay when the focus is upon “making as much as possible in a lifetime”. It causes the uprooting of very much of the natural order.We are not taught to respect matter, nature or each other in the scholar system.We are not satisfied with just that what we need for the moment, but always wishing more.Knowledge is power is money is the delusional- , destructive way of thinking which keeps us in its grip.Always analysing, abstracting, calculating, dividing and conquering.Never seeing the whole picture like indigenous people.

  5. If we replicate the Ecologic Services of the extinct megafauna, since 7 billion of us, (& our livestock), makes us the new Megafauna, then we could build back Soil Carbon with massive increases of Net Primary Production. An ecology not seen for 12,900 years.
    An Ecology not limited by Phosphorous, Sodium & lost Soil-C.
    A great synergy of the work restoring mine scarred lands & developing consumer, Horticultural & Agricultural markets.

    Biochar systems have so many market applications yet to be cultivated; “Carbon Fodder” feeds for Livestock, Plant Chemical Communications, (plant signaling), even Char building materials such as Biochar-Plasters which block Cellphone signals, the potential markets are massive.

    CoolPlanet’s investors & CEOs project (assert) that they will be the first Trillion Dollar Company, based on their $1.50/Gal. cost to produce Bio-Gasoline & Biochar

    For a complete review of the current science & industry applications of Biochar please see my 2014 Soil Science Society of America Biochar presentation. How thermal conversion technologies can integrate and optimize the recycling of valuable nutrients while providing energy and building soil carbon, I believe it brings together both sides of climate beliefs.
    A reconciling of both Gods’ and mans’ controlling hands.

    Agricultural Geo – Engineering; Past, Present & Future
    Across scientific disciplines carbons are finding new utility to solve our most vexing problems

    2014 SSSA Presentation;
    Agricultural Geo-Engineering; Past, Present & Future.
    https://www.soils.org/files/am/ecosystems/kinght.pdf

  6. Ian Dixon says:

    Audacious! Deep!
    Just want to comment that Print Preview of this page http://ecointernet.org/2014/08/04/biosphere_collapse/ needs 46 pp. Huh? Many look blank; a lot of it is Bob Rich’s email which has snuck into column 3? maybe with extra line returns.
    Stay strong, please avoid repetitiousness…
    Cheers

  7. Norman Koerner says:

    Hi Glen, I tried to contact you through email but it didn’t work on this website from the contact link so I had to use this comment page. I think it is important to get this translated, especially in Spanish. I have a friend from Venezuela who is in the United States who could do it. He is also creating a website news service that will be reporting on South to South news. Venezuela has a new Ministry of Ecosocialism and has embarked on an ambitious conservation program for the protection of its extensive natural resources. Email me if you are interested and I will ask my friend who is in the US currently.

  1. August 6, 2014

    […] This article was originally posted on EcoInternet […]

  2. October 1, 2014

    […] recently published peer-reviewed scientific research [2] on ecosystem loss and biosphere collapse indicates more natural ecosystems have been loss than […]

  3. October 24, 2014

    […] Barry, G. (2014), “Terrestrial ecosystem loss and biosphere collapse”, Management of Environmental Quality, Vol. 25 No. 5, pp. […]

  4. October 24, 2014

    […] Barry, G. (2014), “Terrestrial ecosystem loss and biosphere collapse”, Management of Environmental Quality, Vol. 25 No. 5, pp. […]

  5. October 24, 2014

    […] G. (2014), “Terrestrial ecosystem loss and biosphere collapse”, Management of Environmental Quality, Vol. 25 No. 5, pp. […]

  6. April 11, 2015

    […] “An important scientific journal article published today finds that 66% of Earth’s land area must be maintained as natural and agro-ecological ecosystems to sustain a livable environment. Yet about 50% have already been lost, threatening global biosphere collapse.”New Science Suggests More Land-Based Ecosystems Lost than Biosphere Can Bear | EcoInternet […]

  7. July 18, 2015

    […] Exponential economic growth on a finite Earth can only end in collapse. Humanity must embrace a steady state economy – whereby the increment of natural capital harvested is replenished annually – or being ends. Large and connected natural ecosystems must remain the context for human society. […]

  8. July 26, 2015

    […] liquidated for resources. Inequitable overconsumption has achieved such momentum that key ecological planetary boundaries have been surpassed, raising the very real possibility of humanity pulling down the biosphere as we […]

  9. September 14, 2015

    […] overconsumption has achieved such momentum that key ecological planetary boundaries have been surpassed, raising the very real possibility of humanity pulling down the biosphere as we […]

  10. September 16, 2015

    […] ecosystems liquidated for resources. Inequitable overconsumption has achieved such momentum that key ecological planetary boundaries have been surpassed, raising the very real possibility of humanity pulling down the biosphere as we […]

  11. September 16, 2015

    […] having already surpassed planetary boundaries, my own peer-reviewed science has highlighted how 66% of Earth’s land must remain as natural or semi-natural ecosystems to sustain the biosphere, though 50% has already been lost [1]. Given Earth is already well beyond her limits, I foresee […]

  12. April 24, 2016

    […] and old-growth forest restoration – will solve climate change and avoid biosphere collapse. More natural ecosystems have already been lost than the biosphere can bear, and there is much work to be done regenerating ecosystems, creating sustainable permaculture […]

  13. May 1, 2016

    […] by Pocan cronies. Yet I continue to live normally and with a clear conscience, having since published major ecological science, continuing to run Earth’s largest biocentric environmental advocacy network, and advancing […]

  14. May 7, 2016

    […] and old-growth forest restoration – will solve climate change and avoid biosphere collapse. More natural ecosystems have already been lost than the biosphere can bear, and there is much work to be done regenerating ecosystems, creating sustainable permaculture […]

  15. May 8, 2016

    […] The global ecological system has percolated from a state of human settlements enmeshed within a sea of life-giving natural ecosystems, to a sea of unnatural human endeavors surrounding islands of nature. Such ecological overshoot is not sustainable and this terrestrial ecosystem loss is collapsing our one shared biosphere. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.