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Nature. 2012 Jun 6;486(7401):52-8. doi: 10.1038/nature11018.

Approaching a state shift in Earth's biosphere.

Author information

  • 1Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA. barnosky@berkeley.edu

Abstract

Localized ecological systems are known to shift abruptly and irreversibly from one state to another when they are forced across critical thresholds. Here we review evidence that the global ecosystem as a whole can react in the same way and is approaching a planetary-scale critical transition as a result of human influence. The plausibility of a planetary-scale 'tipping point' highlights the need to improve biological forecasting by detecting early warning signs of critical transitions on global as well as local scales, and by detecting feedbacks that promote such transitions. It is also necessary to address root causes of how humans are forcing biological changes.

PMID:
22678279
DOI:
10.1038/nature11018
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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