Rockstroem, Johan

Since 2018 Johan Rockström (b.1965) is joint director at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Professor in Earth System Science at the University of Potsdam. As founder and former director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre he led the team that published the seminal “Planetary Boundaries” framework (“A Safe Operating Space for Humanity,” Nature 461, 2009, 472-475). I describes nine fundamental thresholds that could be catastrophic if transgressed, by triggering non-linear and abrupt environmental changes.

Three boundaries have already been transgressed:

  • Climate Change,
  • Rate of biodiversity loss,
  • and nitrogen and phosphorus pollution.

Six other boundaries still safe or in the zone of uncertainty involve air pollution, chemical pollution, ocean acidification, freshwater consumption, land use change, and ozone depletion.

Rockström is the author of >100 research articles, co-author with Anders Wijkman of Bankrupting Nature: Denying Our Planetary Boundaries (Report to The Club of Rome, 2012), and co-author with Mattias Klum of Big World Small Planet: Abundance Within Planetary Boundaries (2015).  He has developed two TED talks and a free MOOC course on planetary boundaries for the UN’s Sustainable Development Academy.  He has received several awards, such as Sweden’s Most Influential Person on the Environment (2012, 2013), and Knight of the Legion of Honour in France (2016).