Transgression of natural thresholds

Experimental visualization of narrower problems
Other Names:
Irreversible environmental trends
Exceeding the limits to growth
Overstepping the limits of nature
Excessive critical ecosystem loads
Planetary overload
Degradation of natural life support systems
Overloaded natural life support systems

Unprecedented rates of population growth, swiftly rising incomes and per capita demand, and technological advances, impose requirements on natural systems which may exceed their capacity to respond. As a result the life-support system of the planet may eventually be damaged beyond repair. The fact that perturbations in remote and seemingly unimportant parts of the biosphere can trigger off a chain of cause-effect reactions that ultimately provoke profound changes in the entire system, underlines the absence of world-wide integrated resource management.

Many important ecosystems have been degraded and ecological processes impaired. Trends indicate that this situation is not improving, and that growing human populations and unsustainable rates of resource consumption will result in increasing negative impacts on biodiversity. Unless immediate action is taken much biodiversity, including the life-support systems upon which humanity relies, will soon be lost.


The growth of human activity on the planet has produced effects which are approaching, and in some instances may have exceeded, the thresholds for maintenance of equilibrium balance by the planetary system.

Related Problems:
Problem Type:
C: Cross-sectoral problems
Date of last update
04.12.2017 – 14:29 CET