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Launching Responsible Alpha’s Planetary Boundaries Series

We at Responsible Alpha are starting a blog series focused exclusively on researching and compiling the latest market trends, frameworks, and initiatives on the intersection between economics, society, and planetary boundaries. This blog series starts with the premise that it is 2050 and we have successfully transitioned to a low-carbon, sustainable, and equitable future. Therefore, we can discuss what is the nature of wealth and the business principles, processes, and ethics that helped us arrive at this successful transition.

This matters because we have irrevocably changed our planet as we are now in the geologic age called the Anthropocene. We can now date our Earth geologically by how material changes we have made to our now engineered planet.

We see this bionic planet in the scientific data we now observe. For example, on the heels of record global average temperatures, a September study in Science Advances has raised additional alarm bells about the planet’s stability. It claims we have breached six of the nine interconnected planetary boundaries the planet needs to maintain a stable climate. We are also very close to blowing through all of them.

The boundaries are climate change, change in biosphere integrity, stratospheric ozone depletion, ocean acidification, biogeochemical flows, land system change, fresh water change, atmospheric aerosol loading, and novel entities. Breaching one boundary potentially makes the others easier to breach. The climate change barrier has been the biggest domino to fall and has helped drive many of the other boundary breaches. This reality alone may help explain the popularity of “climate doomers”, those who say we have already passed the point of no return.

In short, things are bad, technology alone will not save us, but the article gives reason to hope. We can step back inside the boundaries if we lean more into natural resources than technological fixes.If we commit to getting forests back to, say, 1990s levels, we will have made substantial progress not through a technological Houdini act, but through a combination of human innovation and stewardship of the natural resources the planet already has.

These are the types of dilemmas we will tackle in this new blog series. It will imagine a 2050 world in which we actually meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and stay within planetary boundaries. To start off, a post for each boundary will explore how we used practical solutions to step back inside each boundary and thus from the brink of climate disaster. In doing so, we will draw on the latest market trends, the most recent frameworks, and the most innovative initiatives.

Let us start this journey like we must end it: Together.


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