Johan Rockström

Johan Rockström
Stockholm University | SU · Stockholm Resilience Centre

About

260
Publications
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Introduction
Skills and Expertise

Publications

Publications (260)
Article
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Prudent risk management requires consideration of bad-to-worst-case scenarios. Yet, for climate change, such potential futures are poorly understood. Could anthropogenic climate change result in worldwide societal collapse or even eventual human extinction? At present, this is a dangerously underexplored topic. Yet there are ample reasons to suspec...
Preprint
Environmental assessments increasingly call for just transformations, yet do not offer concrete visions of what these might be. This paper conceptualizes and operationalizes Earth system justice (ESJ) through articulating just ends which minimize significant harm to humans from Earth system change while ensuring access to needed resources for all a...
Article
Full-text available
[Free access to the full text at: https://rdcu.be/cL78K] Green water — terrestrial precipitation, evaporation and soil moisture — is fundamental to Earth system dynamics and is now extensively perturbed by human pressures at continental to planetary scales. However, green water lacks explicit consideration in the existing planetary boundaries fra...
Preprint
The UN 2030 Agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals towards improving access to resources and services, reducing environmental degradation and bringing down inequality. However, there is debate on the magnitude of the environmental burden that would arise from meeting the needs of the poorest, especially compared to much larger burdens fro...
Preprint
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We develop a framework within which to conceptualize World-Earth System resilience. Our notion of World-Earth System resilience emphasizes the need to move beyond the basin of attraction notion of resilience as we are not in a basin we can stay in. We are on a trajectory to a new basin and we have to avoid falling into undesirable basins. We thus f...
Article
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The biosphere crisis requires changes to existing business practices. We ask how corporations can become sustainability leaders, when constrained by multiple barriers to collaboration for biosphere stewardship. We describe how scientists motivated, inspired and engaged with ten of the world’s largest seafood companies, in a collaborative process ai...
Preprint
Climate tipping elements play a crucial role for the stability of the Earth system under human pressures and are potentially at risk of disintegrating within and partially even below the Paris temperature guardrails of 1.5-2.0°C above pre-industrial levels. However, current policies and actions make it very likely to, at least temporarily, transgre...
Article
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Avoiding catastrophic climate change requires rapid decarbonization and improved ecosystem stewardship at a planetary scale. The carbon released through the burning of fossil fuels would take millennia to regenerate on Earth. Though the timeframe of carbon recovery for ecosystems such as peatlands, mangroves and old-growth forests is shorter (centu...
Article
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Non-technical summary We summarize some of the past year's most important findings within climate change-related research. New research has improved our understanding about the remaining options to achieve the Paris Agreement goals, through overcoming political barriers to carbon pricing, taking into account non-CO 2 factors, a well-designed implem...
Article
A global agenda-setting opportunity to reverse ongoing planetary destruction is coming in 2022 with Stockholm+50. The independent Earth Commission will propose a safe and just corridor for humanity to spearhead its transformative agenda, defining goals for a stable Earth integrating justice.
Article
Reversing the alarming trend of rising food insecurity requires transformations towards just, sustainable and healthy food systems with an explicit focus on the most vulnerable and fragile regions.
Article
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The Earth's oceans are one of the largest sinks in the Earth system for anthropogenic CO2 emissions, acting as a negative feedback on climate change. Earth system models project that climate change will lead to a weakening ocean carbon uptake rate as warm water holds less dissolved CO2 and as biological productivity declines. However, most Earth sy...
Article
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Climate science provides strong evidence of the necessity of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. The IPCC 1.5°C special report (SR1.5) presents 414 emissions scenarios modelled for the report, of which around 50 are classified as '1.5°C scenarios', with no or low temperature overshoot. These emission scenario...
Article
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Keeping the Earth system in a stable and resilient state, to safeguard Earth's life support systems while ensuring that Earth's benefits, risks, and related responsibilities are equitably shared, constitutes the grand challenge for human development in the Anthropocene. Here, we describe a framework that the recently formed Earth Commission will us...
Article
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The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed an interconnected and tightly coupled globalized world in rapid change. This article sets the scientific stage for understanding and responding to such change for global sustainability and resilient societies. We provide a systemic overview of the current situation where people and nature are dynamically intertwine...
Article
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The semi-arid Sahel is a global hotspot for poverty and malnutrition. Rainfed agriculture is the main source of food and income, making the well-being of rural population highly sensitive to rainfall variability. Studies have reported an upward trend in annual precipitation in the Sahel since the drought of the 1970s and early '80s, yet farmers hav...
Article
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Article
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Non-technical summary: We summarize some of the past year's most important findings within climate change-related research. New research has improved our understanding of Earth's sensitivity to carbon dioxide, finds that permafrost thaw could release more carbon emissions than expected and that the uptake of carbon in tropical ecosystems is weakeni...
Chapter
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Over the past century, the total material wealth of humanity has been enhanced. However, in the twenty-first century, we face scarcity in critical resources, the degradation of ecosystem services, and the erosion of the planet’s capability to absorb our wastes. Equity issues remain stubbornly difficult to solve. This situation is novel in its speed...
Article
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Food system innovations will be instrumental to achieving multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, major innovation breakthroughs can trigger profound and disruptive changes, leading to simultaneous and interlinked reconfigurations of multiple parts of the global food system. The emergence of new technologies or social solutions, the...
Article
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Climate change and deforestation have increased the risk of drought-induced forest-to-savanna transitions across the tropics and subtropics. However, the present understanding of forest-savanna transitions is generally focused on the influence of rainfall and fire regime changes, but does not take into account the adaptability of vegetation to drou...
Article
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Tropical forests modify the conditions they depend on through feedbacks at different spatial scales. These feedbacks shape the hysteresis (history-dependence) of tropical forests, thus controlling their resilience to deforestation and response to climate change. Here, we determine the emergent hysteresis from local-scale tipping points and regional...
Chapter
The global financial system is both exposed to and driving a new type of systemic risk. This systemic risk relates to the stability of Earth’s life support system. The Earth system - climate, ice sheets, forests, rivers and oceans, and biodiversity - is undergoing rapid and profound change. The age of stability (and predictability) may end soon if...
Article
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An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
Article
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The term “science-based targets” has gained recent popularity. It is used to refer both to overall science-based targets (established through intergovernmental treaties), and to their disaggregation into specific science-based targets (determining contributions of individual actors). Biophysical achievability, measurability, and underpinning ration...
Article
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Social media summary Lessons from the corona crisis can help manage the even more daunting challenge of anthropogenic global warming.
Article
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Non-technical summary Until the past half-century, all agriculture and land management was framed by local institutions strong in social capital. But neoliberal forms of development came to undermine existing structures, thus reducing sustainability and equity. The past 20 years, though, have seen the deliberate establishment of more than 8 million...
Preprint
Full-text available
The Earth’s oceans are one of the largest sinks in the Earth system for anthropogenic CO2 emissions, acting as a negative feedback on climate change. Earth system models predict, though, that climate change will lead to a weakening ocean carbon uptake rate as warm water holds less dissolved CO2 and biological productivity declines. However, most Ea...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The corona pandemic has exposed the interconnected, tightly coupled and vulnerable globalised world. This White Paper sets the scientific stage for understanding and responding to such crises for global sustainability and resilient societies. We provide a systemic overview of the current situation; where people and nature are dynamically intertwine...
Article
Future technologies and systemic innovation are critical for the profound transformation the food system needs. These innovations range from food production, land use and emissions, all the way to improved diets and waste management. Here, we identify these technologies, assess their readiness and propose eight action points that could accelerate t...
Article
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Fresh water—the bloodstream of the biosphere—is at the center of the planetary drama of the Anthropocene. Water fluxes and stores regulate the Earth's climate and are essential for thriving aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, as well as water, food, and energy security. But the water cycle is also being modified by humans at an unprecedented scale...
Article
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Avoiding catastrophic climate change requires rapid decarbonization and improved ecosystem stewardship. To achieve the latter, ecosystems should be prioritized by responsiveness to direct, localized action and the magnitude and recoverability of their carbon stores. Here, we show that a range of ecosystems contain ‘irrecoverable carbon’ that is vul...
Article
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[view-only OPEN ACCESS version of the article is available at https://rdcu.be/b0xn4] Global agriculture puts heavy pressure on planetary boundaries, posing the challenge to achieve future food security without compromising Earth system resilience. On the basis of process-detailed, spatially explicit representation of four interlinked planetary boun...
Article
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The planetary boundaries framework proposes quantified guardrails to human modification of global environmental processes that regulate the stability of the planet and has been considered in sustainability science, governance, and corporate management. However, the planetary boundary for human freshwater use has been critiqued as a singular measure...
Article
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The planetary boundary framework presents a ‘planetary dashboard’ of humanity’s globally aggregated performance on a set of environmental issues that endanger the Earth system’s capacity to support humanity. While this framework has been highly influential, a critical shortcoming for its application in sustainability governance is that it currently...
Article
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Safely achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement requires a worldwide transformation to carbon-neutral societies within the next 30 y. Accelerated technological progress and policy implementations are required to deliver emissions reductions at rates sufficiently fast to avoid crossing dangerous tipping points in the Earth’s climate system...
Article
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Earth System Science (ESS) is a rapidly emerging transdisciplinary endeavour aimed at understanding the structure and functioning of the Earth as a complex, adaptive system. Here, we discuss the emergence and evolution of ESS, outlining the importance of these developments in advancing our understanding of global change. Inspired by early work on b...
Article
Without a great food system transformation, the world will fail to deliver both on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement. There are five grand challenges to be faced, by science and society, to effect that transformation.
Research
Full-text available
Published by Future Earth and The Earth League
Article
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Resilience is increasingly recognized as an imperative for any prospect of sustainable development, as it relates to our ability to sustain human well-being and progress under the planetary and societal changes that we face now and into the future. Yet, we are ill-prepared to meet this challenge. We neither fully understand nor manage consistently...
Article
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The world agreed to achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Nine planetary boundaries set an upper limit to Earth system impacts of human activity in the long run. Conventional efforts to achieve the 14 socio-economic goals will raise pressure on planetary boundaries, moving the world away from the three environmental SDGs. We have create...
Article
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Individual organisms on land and in the ocean sequester massive amounts of the carbon emitted into the atmosphere by humans. Yet the role of ecosystems as a whole in modulating this uptake of carbon is less clear. Here, we study several different mechanisms by which climate change and ecosystems could interact. We show that climate change could cau...
Article
The growing threat of abrupt and irreversible climate changes must compel political and economic action on emissions. The growing threat of abrupt and irreversible climate changes must compel political and economic action on emissions. A plane flying over a river of meltwater on glacier in Alaska
Preprint
The planetary boundaries framework has proven useful for many global sustainability contexts, but is challenging to apply to freshwater, which is spatially heterogeneous, part of complex socio-ecological systems and often dominated by local dynamics. To date, the planetary boundary for water has been simplistically defined by as the global rate of...
Article
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change call for deep transformations in every country that will require complementary actions by governments, civil society, science and business. Yet stakeholders lack a shared understanding of how the 17 SDGs can be operationalized. Drawing on earlier work by The World in...
Article
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Projections of global warming in Africa are generally associated with increasing aridity and decreasing water availability. However, most freshwater assessments focus on single hydroclimatic indicators (e.g., runoff, precipitation, or aridity), lacking analysis on combined changes in evaporative demand, and water availability on land. There remains...
Technical Report
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This report assesses all the positive potential benefits digitalization brings to sustainable development for all. It also highlights the potential negative impacts and challenges going forward, particularly for those impacted by the ‘digital divide’ that excludes primarily people left behind during the Industrial Revolution like the billion that g...
Preprint
The planetary boundaries framework has proven useful for many global sustainability contexts, but is challenging to apply to freshwater, which is spatially heterogeneous, part of complex socio-ecological systems and often dominated by local dynamics. To date, the planetary boundary for water has been simplistically defined by as the global rate of...
Article
Full-text available
Today, more than ever, ‘Spaceship Earth’ is an apt metaphor as we chart the boundaries for a safe planet¹. Social scientists both analyse why society courts disaster by approaching or even overstepping these boundaries and try to design suitable policies to avoid these perils. Because the threats of transgressing planetary boundaries are global, lo...