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Are our Earth’s resource finite, or not?

That’s the crux of the question answered by the Planetary Boundaries work done by the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

Their answer is: yes. There are Nine Planetary Boundaries. These limits describe how much we can use, destroy, eat and drink of our planet’s resources until we run the risk of running out. Ruining it for future generations.

This research isn’t comforting to think about. It raises all sort of uncomfortable discussions about fair-shares.

So it’s no wonder that there is a correspondingly robust controversy the role of this science in formulating policy.

Two examples, first one con and then one pro:

Roger Pielkejr, Jr.: “Planetary Boundaries as a Power Grab”

Victor Galaz: “Planetary Boundaries Strawman”

This conversation reminds me of climate change denialism tactics that try to win the argument on semantics over sense.

Since we don’t–and can’t–know for sure that the science is all correct, then we shouldn’t use it to make decisions?

That’s like going after a lion by the tail. Sure, it might look like the easiest place to grab, but you won’t be happy with the results once you’ve got it. Far better to go after the whole lion, if that’s your ultimate game.

“We cannot risk our kids’ futures on the false hope that the vast majority of scientists are wrong.” That’s the sentiment in yesterday’s Climate Declaration announcement.

Besides, what’s the harm if the scientists aren’t entirely right? We’ll have a cleaner, more energy-efficient world?

With the fate of the planet potentially at risk, we can’t waste time on inches and tails. We need to go for the whole lion.

I love this idea a million ways to Sunday.

Harvard Business Review blogger Gretchen Rubin writes about the possibilities born from tight spaces:

Why Innovators Love Constraints

To make choices about how we will expend the resources we do have available to us, to find cheaper, more nimble ways of doing something as a person – and as a corporation. Our perceived limitations may give us direction on where we might play, or want to play. Indeed, if we will let them, constraints can (and will) drive us to disruption.

When it comes to Sustainability, our constraints are very real.

We exist within a finite set of Planetary Boundaries. Nine of them, in fact.

Via guardian.co.uk:

Promise and problems in planetary boundaries

The Nine Planetary Boundaries, the identification of nine limits that cannot be crossed if humans are to avoid catastrophe, were developed by Johan Rockström et al in a 2011 paper in the Nature journal (and a nod to the Club of Rome’s 1972 Limits to Growth), are now being used as the basis for campaigns and policy work by NGOs such as Forum For the Future and WWF.

General Patton famously said, “Pressure makes diamonds.”

Given our constraints, what will we create?