University of Minnesota Professor Jon Foley, director of the university's Institute on the Environment, said climate change is the focus of much of today's political debate, but other indicators of Earth's health are just as important.
Foley argues that while climate change gets ample attention, species loss and nitrogen pollution exceed safe limits by greater degrees. And he says such environmental processes as ocean acidification and stratospheric ozone depletion are also moving toward dangerous thresholds.
The professor says swift action is needed to address developments that move the global environment and human life into dangerous new territory. He said the first steps should include promptly switching to low-carbon energy sources, curtailing land clearing and revolutionizing agricultural practices.
The research is featured as part of the cover story of Scientific American magazine's April issue.