This chapter goes through two of the slow variables constituting the planetary boundaries; land and water use. Over the last 150 years, we have transformed almost 40% of the world’s land area into urban regions and for agriculture, and the change of ecosystems changes the ability of the land to regulate water and nutrient flow, among other ecosystem services. Forest systems are important for regulating the stability of the climate and resilience. Examples are given of rapidly changing forest systems in the world. Land use change is associated with tipping points when coupled with changes in fresh water use, such as when tracts of land get locked into desertified states. Water regulates everything we know in the biosphere and humans depend upon it; the finite hydrological cycle is a prerequisite for the stability of the Earth system, as it regulates climate and biodiversity and is important for social and economic development. With the global population approaching 9 billion, our need for fresh water and land will increase; optimistically, however, based upon studies done at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, we CAN feed the world within a safe operating space. Professor Rockström provides numerical evidence to support this.
This video is licensed under the CC BY-NC-SA license