Irreversible environmental trends

Experimental visualization of narrower problems
Other Names:
Transgression of natural thresholds
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
Global ecological overshoot
Exceedance of earth's sustainable capacity

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.


Currently (2018), our civilization is running at 40% above its sustainable capacity. We’re rapidly depleting the earth’s forests, animals, insects, fish, freshwater, even the topsoil we require to grow our crops. We’ve already transgressed three of the nine planetary boundaries that define humanity’s safe operating space, and yet global GDP is expected to more than double by mid-century, with potentially irreversible and devastating consequences.


Broader Problems:
Global crisis
Related Problems:
United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment)
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
World Climate Research Programme (WCRP)
WMO GAW Global Ozone Observing System (GAW - GO</SUP>3</SUB>OS)
Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)
Global Climate Observing System (GCOS)
Inter-Agency Committee on the Climate Agenda (IACCA)
Cities Climate Finance Leadership Alliance (CCFLA)
Regions of Climate Action (R20)
European Climate Research Alliance (ECRA)
International Association for Urban Climate (IAUC)
Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA)
Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL)
Africa-EU Innovation Alliance for Water and Climate (AfriAlliance)
African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC)
World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS)
Friends of the Earth International (FoEI)
Climate Action
Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture (GACSA)
Global Alliances for Water and Climate (GAfWaC)
Global Cities Covenant on Climate (Mexico City Pact)
Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS)
Joint Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change (FACCE-JPI)
UN Climate Resilience Initiative (A2R)
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - Secretariat (UNFCCC Climate Change Secretariat)
World Mayors Council on Climate Change (WMCCC)
Africa Centre for Climate and Earth Systems Science (ACCESS)
Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate (APPCDC)
Asian Network on Climate Science and Technology (ANCST)
Citizens' Climate Engagement Network (CCEN)
Civil Society Coalition on Climate Change (CSCCC)
Climate Alliance
World Health Organization (WHO)
Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN)
Climate Bonds Initiative
Climate Group
Climate Parliament
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 13: Climate ActionGOAL 15: Life on LandGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal
Problem Type:
B: Basic universal problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST