Planetary Boundaries: Exploring the Safe Operating Space for Humanity

From: Daniel O’Neill
Subject: The next two 17 group meetings, Wed 2 March and Wed 6 April

The next 17 Group meeting will be held on Wednesday the 6th of April in unit 6 at 20 Drury St West End at 7pm.

Described more fully below, it will be led by Trevor Berrill who last month led an inspiring discussion on prosperity without growth.

This new talk will be a related and even more comprehensive critique of the disastrous way the earth presently lives and works.

Here is a short summary and a short biographical note:

6 April Planetary Boundaries: Exploring the Safe Operating Space for Humanity report
This report, by the Stockholm Resilience Centre, is the first attempt to develop a new approach to sustainability, by which we define planetary boundaries within which we expect that humanity can operate safely. Transgressing one or more planetary boundaries may be deleterious or even catastrophic due to the risk of crossing thresholds that will trigger non-linear, abrupt environmental change within continental- to planetary-scale systems. These boundaries include atmospheric greenhouse gas levels, ocean acidification and phosphorous and nitrogen flows, fresh water use and land use change, biological diversity and chemical pollution.


We estimate that humanity has already transgressed three planetary boundaries: for climate change, rate of biodiversity loss, and changes to the global nitrogen cycle. Planetary boundaries are interdependent, because transgressing one may both shift the position of other boundaries, or cause them to be transgressed. The social impacts of transgressing boundaries will be a function of the socialecological resilience of the affected societies.


Trevor will provide a summary of and some comments on this report and its implications for societal structural resilience and social impacts.

Then, later in the year, at a date to be announced, Trevor will be speaking on a more locally urgent topic as outlined hereunder. This obviously bears some relation to the current movement being led by Drew Hutton and featuring the National Action called Lock the Gate which is planned to occur at Tara on the Darling Downs from the 29th of April to the 4th of May. Drew will also be speaking to the 17 Group later in the year on coal, coal seam gas, and climate change:

Date TBA Filling the Black Hole – Shifting the Queensland Economy from Coal Dependence

Most media present Queensland as a coal dependent economy. Trevor has been working with farmers on the Darling Downs, who are threatened with the loss of productive farmland to coal and coal seam gas mining, to provide an alternative. Trevor will use this experience to provide a critique of our coal dependence and offer some pathways forward.

About Trevor
Trevor Berrill is an award winning, private consultant in sustainable energy (SE). He has worked in both renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) for over 30 years, including system design and installation, research and development, technical training, public education and policy. He was formerly branch president of the Australian Solar Energy Society and a founding member in Queensland of the Alternative Technology Association and Wind Energy Association. His environmental and social change commitment started in the 1970s as an activist for FOE (Qld) fighting the anti-nuclear campaigns. His goal is to search for and present socially and ecologically sustainable pathways to the future.

Trevor is trained in mechanical engineering and energy auditing at QUT and has a Masters of Environmental Education degree from Griffith University.

Trot, although he has finished his volunteering in Victoria, West Australia and Christchurch, is on his way, ever the internationalist, to Japan via Libya, Yemen and Bahrein, so he wont be here, but his accredited local representative gives us to understand that he suggests you attend if only on the off-chance that you can pick up a copy of some rag that might be on sale at the meeting that has some whiff of his characteristic way of thinking about it. There it is, enigmatic, Parthian, but Leonine in its gruff authority.

One thought on “Planetary Boundaries: Exploring the Safe Operating Space for Humanity

  1. Dan O'Neill says:

    The next 17 Group meeting will be held on Wednesday the 6th of April in unit 6 at 20 Drury St West End at 7pm.

    Described more fully above, it will be led by Trevor Berrill who last month led an inspiring discussion on prosperity without growth.

    This new talk will be a related and even more comprehensive critique of the disastrous way the earth presently lives and works.

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