We already have crossed four of nine “planetary boundaries” that set theoretical limits on changes to the environment before we leave the "safe operating space for humanity," a team of researchers reports in the journal Science.
The four boundaries involve the extinction rate, deforestation, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and the flow of nitrogen and phosphorous — used on land as fertilizer — into the ocean.
“What the science has shown is that human activities — economic growth, technology, consumption — are destabilizing the global environment,” says Will Steffen, who holds appointments at the Australian National University and the Stockholm Resilience Center and is lead author of the paper.
A second research team reporting in Science says humans are on the verge of causing unprecedented damage to the oceans and ocean life.
Meanwhile, there's bad news and good news on our sense of the importance of doing something about climate change, says The Washington Post.
The Pew Research Center asked Americans which policy issues they believe should be a top priority for the Obama administration and Congress this year.
Thirty-eight percent said dealing with global warming should be a top priority, putting that issue second to last among 23 priorities.
But that 38 percent is almost 10 percentage points higher than last year, when only 29 percent of Americans said global warming should be a priority, the Post says.