Human Landscapes A blog about people and nature http://ecotope.org/blogs/ http://www.rssboard.org/rss-specification BlogEngine.NET 2.0.0.36 en-US http://ecotope.org/blogs/opml.axd http://www.dotnetblogengine.net/syndication.axd My name Human Landscapes 0.000000 0.000000 A tale of two planets: The Anthropocene revisited <p><a href="http://ecotope.org/App_Images/ellis_PNAS_fig_01_300_public.png"><img style="background-image: none; float: left; padding-top: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin: 0px 10px 5px 0px; display: inline; padding-right: 0px; border-width: 0px;" title="fig_01_land_use_history_for_release_75" src="http://ecotope.org/blogs/image.axd?picture=fig_01_land_use_history_for_release_75.png" border="0" alt="fig_01_land_use_history_for_release_75" width="244" height="200" align="left" /></a>Is the Anthropocene recent? Defined solely by the accelerating impacts of an industrial society that threatens the future of both humanity and the biosphere (Barnosky <em>et al.,</em> 2012,  Rockstrom <em>et al.,</em> 2009)?</p> <p>A closer look at the history of human use of land yields a very different story.  Today in <em><a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/04/25/1217241110">PNAS</a></em>, my colleagues and I present a new global history of land use suggesting that human transformation of the terrestrial biosphere was already globally significant more than 3000 years ago (<a href="http://bit.ly/e_anthro">Ellis <em>et al.</em>, 2013</a>). </p> <p>The evidence, detailed in the paper (<a href="http://bit.ly/e_anthro">pdf here</a>; <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/04/25/1217241110"><em>PNAS </em>here</a>), is of three kinds.  First, historical predictions from a new spatial model of global land use history developed by coauthor <a href="http://arve.epfl.ch/people/jedkaplan/">Jed Kaplan</a> (the KK10 model; Kaplan et al., 2011), were compared against an earlier model that has become the accepted reference for most global change scientists: the HYDE model of coauthor <a href="http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Kees_Klein_Goldewijk/">Kees Klein Goldewijk</a> (Klein Goldewijk et al., 2011).  Unlike prior global models of early land use, Kaplan’s model was derived from nonlinear empirical relationships observed between per capita  land use and population density over the long term- relationships that agree with widely accepted theories of land use intensification in traditional smallholder agricultural systems (<a href="http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2011/01/11/Saved!-by-Ester-Boserup.aspx">earlier blog post on this</a>).  When these two models are compared (see figure above, and <a href="http://bit.ly/e_anthro">the paper</a>), their differences are so striking that they might as well come from <strong>two different planets: one with ancient and extensive human use of land (KK10), one with land use changing</strong><strong> mostly in recent centuries (HYDE). </strong></p> <p>To explore whether existing theories of land use intensification could explain land use change processes across the entire span of the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene">Holocene</a>, from the late <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleistocene">Pleistocene</a> up to the present day, we reviewed the extensions of intensification theory found in archaeology, environmental history, geography and other disciplines that study human/environment relationships.  From this, it became clear that intensification theory could readily be broadened to include a wide range of adaptive practices and land use systems that have enabled increasing human population densities to drive increasingly productive and efficient use of the same land over time to support growing populations over the long term.   Long before agriculture, our ancestors had already learned to support greater populations from the same land by pre- and proto-agricultural land use intensification practices, including <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broad_spectrum_revolution">dietary broadening</a> (eating across the food chain), the use of fire to enhance foraging success, food processing to enhance nutrient availability (cooking, grinding, etc.), and the propagation of useful species.  Intensification of land use then continued across agriculture’s development from shifting cultivation to continuous cropping, the moldboard plow, synthetic chemicals and mechanization and a wide array of other land use systems.  </p> <p>Finally, we examined the evidence from archaeology, paleoecology and agricultural history to assess the plausibility of the two different models of early land use history.  For archaeologists, this was not new territory- especially for coauthor <a href="http://www.ucl.ac.uk/archaeology/people/staff/fuller">Dorian Fuller</a>, who studies the processes of plant domestication.  Advances in archaeological science continue to reveal ever earlier and deeper roots of human shaping of biology and environment.  Evidence from paleoecology, including early use of fire to clear land, appears less coherent, but in general agrees with findings from archaeology.  The picture overall is becoming clearer of a terrestrial biosphere profoundly transformed by humans more than three thousand years ago. </p> <p>The most plausible history of our planet is one of early transformation of the terrestrial biosphere by human use of land, with land use intensification processes playing a central role in regulating long-term changes in human-environmental relationships.  However, our results are not the final word on Anthropocene history.  Conclusive validation will require a major, unprecedented effort to integrate the local observations of archaeologists and paleoecologists across the world into a robust quantitative assessment of the global history of human populations and their use of land.  (yes- we are working on it!)</p> <p>The human role in Earth history matters- even to the present.  Confucius is said to have said (is that postmodern enough?) "Study the past if you would define the future", and Churchill: "The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see."</p> <p>The most plausible history of our planet has us living on a used biosphere sustained by the efforts of countless generations of our ancestors.  We have always shaped the biosphere and lived on the results.  We can only hope to get better at it as we move deeper into the Anthropocene.</p> <p> </p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Essay on conservation implications of the work:</strong></span> </p> <p><a href="http://thebreakthrough.org/">@The Breakthrough Insitute</a>: "<a href="http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/programs/conservation-and-development/the-long-anthropocene/">The Long Anthropocene: Three Millennia of Humans Reshaping the Earth</a></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Archaeologist co-author Dorian Fuller blog post</strong></span>: <a href="http://archaeobotanist.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/used-planet.html">http://archaeobotanist.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/used-planet.html</a></p> <p> </p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Paper at <em>PNAS</em></span>:</strong></p> <p style="margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px; margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px;">Ellis, E. C., J. O. Kaplan, D. Q. Fuller, S. Vavrus, K. Klein Goldewijk, and P. H. Verburg. 2013. Used Planet: A Global History. <em>Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</em> <strong>Early View</strong>:  <a href="http://www.pnas.org/lookup/doi/10.1073/pnas.1217241110">http://www.pnas.org/lookup/doi/10.1073/pnas.1217241110</a> [<strong>download the <a href="http://bit.ly/e_anthro">pdf</a></strong>]</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Media coverage:</strong></span></p> <p>Pearce, F. 2013. Humans' indelible stamp on Earth clear 5000 years ago. in New Scientist (online). April 29, 2013. <a href="http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23460-humans-indelible-stamp-on-earth-clear-5000-years-ago.html">http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23460-humans-indelible-stamp-on-earth-clear-5000-years-ago.html</a></p> <p>Biello, D. 2013. 3,000 Years of Abusing Earth on a Global Scale (online). April 30, 2013.  <a href="http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=humans-had-global-impacts-thousands-of-years-ago">http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=humans-had-global-impacts-thousands-of-years-ago </a></p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">References</span></strong></p> <p style="margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px; margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px;">Barnosky, A. D., E. A. Hadly, J. Bascompte, E. L. Berlow, J. H. Brown, M. Fortelius, W. M. Getz, J. Harte, A. Hastings, P. A. Marquet, N. D. Martinez, A. Mooers, P. Roopnarine, G. Vermeij, J. W. Williams, R. Gillespie, J. Kitzes, C. Marshall, N. Matzke, D. P. Mindell, E. Revilla, and A. B. Smith. 2012. Approaching a state shift in Earth's biosphere. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature11018"><em>Nature </em>486:52-58</a>.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px; margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px;">Ellis, E. C. 2011 Anthropogenic transformation of the terrestrial biosphere. <a href="http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1938/1010.abstract">Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Science 369(1938):1010-1035</a>. [<a href="http://ecotope.org/people/ellis/papers/ellis_2011.pdf">download</a>].</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px; margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px;">Kaplan, J. O., K. M. Krumhardt, E. C. Ellis, W. F. Ruddiman, C. Lemmen, and K. Klein Goldewijk. 2011. Holocene carbon emissions as a result of anthropogenic land cover change. The Holocene 21:775-791.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px; margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px;">Klein Goldewijk, K., A. Beusen, G. van Drecht, and M. de Vos. 2011. The HYDE 3.1 spatially explicit database of human induced global land use change over the past 12,000 years. Global Ecology & Biogeography 20:73-86.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px; margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px;">Rockstrom, J., W. Steffen, K. Noone, A. Persson, F. S. Chapin, E. F. Lambin, T. M. Lenton, M. Scheffer, C. Folke, H. J. Schellnhuber, B. Nykvist, C. A. de Wit, T. Hughes, S. van der Leeuw, H. Rodhe, S. Sorlin, P. K. Snyder, R. Costanza, U. Svedin, M. Falkenmark, L. Karlberg, R. W. Corell, V. J. Fabry, J. Hansen, B. Walker, D. Liverman, K. Richardson, P. Crutzen, and J. A. Foley. 2009. A safe operating space for humanity. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/461472a"><em>Nature</em> 461:472-475</a>.</p> http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2013/04/29/A-tale-of-two-planets-The-Anthropocene-revisited.aspx http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2013/04/29/A-tale-of-two-planets-The-Anthropocene-revisited.aspx#comment http://ecotope.org/blogs/post.aspx?id=a9e84b4f-2662-4845-87f2-df6c0fda85cb Mon, 29 Apr 2013 21:41:00 -0500 Global Change Land use Erle http://ecotope.org/blogs/pingback.axd http://ecotope.org/blogs/post.aspx?id=a9e84b4f-2662-4845-87f2-df6c0fda85cb 0 http://ecotope.org/blogs/trackback.axd?id=a9e84b4f-2662-4845-87f2-df6c0fda85cb http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2013/04/29/A-tale-of-two-planets-The-Anthropocene-revisited.aspx#comment http://ecotope.org/blogs/syndication.axd?post=a9e84b4f-2662-4845-87f2-df6c0fda85cb Global tipping points in the terrestrial biosphere? <p><img style="margin: 0px 10px 5px 0px; display: inline; float: left;" src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/02/Kipppunkt_Ei.jpg/320px-Kipppunkt_Ei.jpg" alt="" width="200" height="151" align="left" /></p> <p><strong>Is our planet now threatened by rapid global changes caused by human forcing of the terrestrial biosphere past a planetary tipping point? </strong> Two different articles in <em>Nature</em> have suggested that the answer may be yes (<a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/461472a">Rockstrom et al. 2009</a>, <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature11018">Barnosky et al., 2012</a>).  Such is the question that <a href="http://www.adelaide.edu.au/directory/barry.brook">Barry Brook</a>, myself and colleagues evaluated recently in a peer-reviewed journal article now in press at <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2013.01.016"><em>TREE</em></a>, and formed the basis for my opinion piece <a href="http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21729070.200-time-to-forget-global-tipping-points.html">published today in</a> <em><a href="http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21729070.200-time-to-forget-global-tipping-points.html">NewScientist</a> </em>.</p> <p><strong>Our answer, in a nutshell, is: <em>not likely based on current scientific knowledge</em></strong>, as detailed in our <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2013.01.016"><em>paper</em></a><em> </em>[<a href="http://ecotope.org/people/ellis/papers/brook_2013.pdf">pdf</a>] and expressed in my <a href="http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21729070.200-time-to-forget-global-tipping-points.html"><em>opinion</em></a> piece [<a href="http://ecotope.org/people/ellis/papers/ellis_2013.pdf">pdf</a>] (please read these for the details).</p> <p><strong>Our "eggs" are in many baskets, and our baskets are in many hands</strong>. For planetary (global scale) tipping points to exist in the terrestrial biosphere, the forces of humanity would need to act uniformly across the planet and all ecosystems would need to respond to them in the same way, and/or the response would need to be transmitted rapidly among Earth’s many ecosystems and continents to enable a synergistic global response to emerge.  </p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>It is essential to note that:</strong></span></p> <ul> <li><strong>This work is only about</strong> <strong>global tipping points within the <span style="text-decoration: underline;">terrestrial biosphere</span></strong>: <strong>it does not apply to the Earth system as a whole, or to the climate system itself</strong>.  Indeed, climate science indicates that we may now in fact be heading towards a global tipping point in the climate system, as observed in past geological time periods.  The potential threat of a global tipping point in the climate system demands scientific and policy attention.  For a review of tipping points in the climate system, please refer to <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0705414105">Lenton et al., 2008</a>.</li> <li><strong>This work does not deny that humans have caused and are causing massive global changes in the terrestrial biosphere.  </strong>We have all published work supporting this (eg. <a href="http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1938/1010.abstract">Ellis 2011</a>).  Nor does our work challenge existing observations of local and regional tipping points in ecosystems.  Our work challenges only the hypothesis that current and future global changes in the terrestrial biosphere will occur in the form of a <em>global</em> tipping point. </li> <li><strong>Our work is based on expert review of current scientific knowledge</strong>: it is not based on controlled experiments with the terrestrial biosphere.  As a result, our claims are not the strongest form of scientific knowledge or prediction.  However, they do represent a peer-reviewed assessment of existing scientific knowledge in one of the most highly cited scientific journals.</li> </ul> <p>As with all scientific knowledge about our planet’s future, we cannot now know with absolute certainty what the future holds.  There is only one Earth, and so we must base our knowledge of how the Earth system functions based a combination of historical observations and mechanistic models.  At present, global models of the Earth system have yet to reach the level of sophistication needed to answer questions about global tipping points within the terrestrial biosphere or in the Earth system as a whole.  So at this point, without adequate models or prior observations of human-induced global tipping points in the terrestrial biosphere, arguments for or against  tipping points must be based on informed scientific opinion: that is the only current basis for any published work on this subject. </p> <p>It is my hope and belief that global change science will one day have the evidence and global modeling power to resolve these very critical questions about the nature of humanity and our planet in the Anthropocene.  Today, we must merely do our best with the science that we have.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">References</span></p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Barnosky, A. D., E. A. Hadly, J. Bascompte, E. L. Berlow, J. H. Brown, M. Fortelius, W. M. Getz, J. Harte, A. Hastings, P. A. Marquet, N. D. Martinez, A. Mooers, P. Roopnarine, G. Vermeij, J. W. Williams, R. Gillespie, J. Kitzes, C. Marshall, N. Matzke, D. P. Mindell, E. Revilla, and A. B. Smith. 2012. Approaching a state shift in Earth's biosphere. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature11018"><em>Nature </em>486:52-58</a>.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Brook, B. W., <strong>E. C. Ellis</strong>, M. P. Perring, A. W. Mackay, and L. Blomqvist. 2013. Does the terrestrial biosphere have planetary tipping points? <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2013.01.016"><em>Trends in Ecology & Evolution</em> (in press)</a>. [<a href="http://ecotope.org/people/ellis/papers/brook_2013.pdf">download</a>]</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Ellis, E. C. 2011 Anthropogenic transformation of the terrestrial biosphere. <a href="http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1938/1010.abstract">Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Science 369(1938):1010-1035</a>. [<a href="http://ecotope.org/people/ellis/papers/ellis_2011.pdf">download</a>].</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Ellis, E. C. 2013. Back from the Brink. <em>NewScientist</em>. March 9, 2013, (2907):30-31. [<a href="http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21729070.200-time-to-forget-global-tipping-points.html">online</a>] [<a href="http://ecotope.org/people/ellis/papers/ellis_2013.pdf">download</a>]</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Lenton, T. M., H. Held, E. Kriegler, J. W. Hall, W. Lucht, S. Rahmstorf, and H. J. Schellnhuber. 2008. Tipping elements in the Earth's climate system. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0705414105"><em>Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</em> 105:1786-1793</a>.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Rockstrom, J., W. Steffen, K. Noone, A. Persson, F. S. Chapin, E. F. Lambin, T. M. Lenton, M. Scheffer, C. Folke, H. J. Schellnhuber, B. Nykvist, C. A. de Wit, T. Hughes, S. van der Leeuw, H. Rodhe, S. Sorlin, P. K. Snyder, R. Costanza, U. Svedin, M. Falkenmark, L. Karlberg, R. W. Corell, V. J. Fabry, J. Hansen, B. Walker, D. Liverman, K. Richardson, P. Crutzen, and J. A. Foley. 2009. A safe operating space for humanity. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/461472a"><em>Nature</em> 461:472-475</a>.</p> http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2013/03/06/Global-tipping-points-in-the-terrestrial-biosphere.aspx http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2013/03/06/Global-tipping-points-in-the-terrestrial-biosphere.aspx#comment http://ecotope.org/blogs/post.aspx?id=ba0dde93-8bfa-43b0-99dc-8f26b66861eb Wed, 06 Mar 2013 14:04:00 -0500 Global Change Erle http://ecotope.org/blogs/pingback.axd http://ecotope.org/blogs/post.aspx?id=ba0dde93-8bfa-43b0-99dc-8f26b66861eb 0 http://ecotope.org/blogs/trackback.axd?id=ba0dde93-8bfa-43b0-99dc-8f26b66861eb http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2013/03/06/Global-tipping-points-in-the-terrestrial-biosphere.aspx#comment http://ecotope.org/blogs/syndication.axd?post=ba0dde93-8bfa-43b0-99dc-8f26b66861eb All is not loss: Plant Biodiversity in the Anthropocene <p><a href="http://ecotope.org/blogs/image.axd?picture=sichuan_landscape_flowers.jpg"><img style="background-image: none; margin: 0px 10px 5px 0px; padding-left: 0px; padding-right: 0px; display: inline; float: left; padding-top: 0px; border-width: 0px;" title="sichuan_landscape_flowers" src="http://ecotope.org/blogs/image.axd?picture=sichuan_landscape_flowers_thumb.jpg" border="0" alt="sichuan_landscape_flowers" width="244" height="184" align="left" /></a></p> <p>What are we humans doing to biodiversity in the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropocene">Anthropocene</a>? Causing Earth’s sixth mass extinction? (e.g. <a href="http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v471/n7336/full/nature09678.html">Barnosky <em>et al.</em> 2011</a> and others).  How about something completely new to biodiversity on this planet?   How about a massive globalization of species leading to the widespread emergence of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novel_ecosystem">novel ecosystems</a> enriched with <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exotic_species">exotic and domesticated species</a> (Hobbs et al. 2009).</p> <p> </p> <p>That’s the main message of our study <a href="http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0030535">published today in <em>PLoS One</em></a>, where we present <a href="http://ecotope.org/anthromes/biodiversity/plants">the first spatially explicit global assessment of plant biodiversity patterns created by humans (anthropogenic biodiversity;</a> <a href="http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0030535">Ellis et al. 2012</a>).  We set out on this work more than 3 years ago with the goal of testing a <strong>key hypothesis</strong> <strong>in my first paper on </strong><a href="http://ecotope.org/anthromes/"><strong>anthromes</strong></a> (<a href="http://ecotope.org/anthromes/v1/">Ellis and Ramankutty 2008</a>): that <strong>current global patterns of biodiversity are better explained by global patterns in human systems</strong> (populations, land use) <strong>than by the “natural” biophysical patterns of the Earth system</strong> (climate, geology)<strong>.</strong></p> <p><br />What followed was a journey- starting from the naïve belief that global patterns of biodiversity, in terms of species richness (total number of species), would be well enough described at <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1523-1739.1990.tb00309.x/abstract">regional landscape scales (Noss 1990)</a>, at least for some taxa, to allow us to test the hypothesis once and for all.  While native species richness data for vertebrates, especially birds and mammals (e.g. Grenyer et al. 2006, Schipper et al. 2008) are now fairly complete and available, to get a full accounting, we also needed data on exotic species and could find no appropriate data for these.  Moreover, our most enthusiastic collaborator, <a href="http://www.uni-goettingen.de/en/218853.html">Holger Kreft,</a> suggested we focus on plants- much more abundant species than vertebrates (~300K vs. ~40K). </p> <p> </p> <p>That was the end of innocence for us, but yielded the first conclusion of the work: we still know too little about the global patterns of plant biodiversity at <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1523-1739.1990.tb00309.x/abstract">regional landscape scales</a>- both for natives and exotics- to assess current global patterns of plant biodiversity directly from measurements.  So, we soldiered on and used models for native species richness (Kreft and Jetz 2007), native species losses caused by habitat loss (classic species-area relationships by biomes; Kier et al. 2005), exotic species invasions (Lonsdale 1999), crop species (Monfreda et al. 2008) and estimated ornamental species richness based on urban exotic data in the scientific literature.  As with much scientific work, we never did test our hypothesis (the models we used wouldn’t allow this).  But what we did find really surprised us.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong><a href="http://ecotope.org/anthromes/biodiversity/plants/maps"><img style="background-image: none; margin: 5px 10px 5px 0px; padding-left: 0px; padding-right: 0px; display: inline; float: left; padding-top: 0px; border-width: 0px;" title="image" src="http://ecotope.org/blogs/image.axd?picture=image_thumb_2.png" border="0" alt="image" width="244" height="240" align="left" /></a>The big story of plant biodiversity in the Anthropocene is not about loss at all.</strong>  Our model predictions indicate that <strong>human systems have caused a net increase in plant species richness across more than two thirds of the terrestrial biosphere, mostly by facilitating exotic species invasions.  </strong>Moreover, exotic species increases tend to be associated with native losses and usually exceed them. Together these coupled processes of species gain and loss may be thought of as new global biotic process of anthropogenic ecological succession, leading to the widespread emergence of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novel_ecosystem">novel ecosystems</a>.  While conclusions from our model results can only be preliminary, they confirm and build upon the results of many prior studies (e.g.  Vitousek et al. 1997, Sax and Gaines 2003, Stohlgren et al. 2008).</p> <p> </p> <p>Some caveats are important. Species richness is a primitive measure of biodiversity- the relative abundance of species and their taxonomic diversity are critical in determining community structure and function (Isbell et al. 2011) . Plants are not like vertebrates, which, despite their mobility, seem far less capable of hanging on in the margins than most plants (expect the species that love us too much- like rats, cats and deer).  Mass extinctions may still be coming in the long term, especially if our alteration of global climate continues to accelerate.  Finally, it takes generational time to determine whether species are going extinct (Tilman et al. 1994).  Plants are among the longest -lived organisms, and many tree species may already be living fossils- or emerging domesticates- if artificial propagation is required to avert extinctions. </p> <p> </p> <p><a href="http://ecotope.org/anthromes/biodiversity/plants/maps/"><img style="background-image: none; margin: 0px 10px 5px 0px; padding-left: 0px; padding-right: 0px; display: inline; float: left; padding-top: 0px; border-width: 0px;" title="ellis_2012_ASR_N" src="http://ecotope.org/blogs/image.axd?picture=ellis_2012_ASR_N.jpg" border="0" alt="ellis_2012_ASR_N" width="244" height="184" align="left" /></a>Nevertheless, the message is clear.  While we are losing species from regional landscapes across the planet- causing very real and permanent extinctions, so far, the main anthropogenic global change in plant biodiversity is a profound and massive shift of biotic communities to novel forms never seen before on Earth, with natives relegated to a minor role alongside newly dominant exotics. Yet even in ancient agricultural villages and urban domestic gardens, the most densely populated and intensively-used <a href="http://ecotope.org/anthromes">anthromes</a>, the majority of native plant species appear to be sustaining viable populations, though in the shadow of their more abundant exotic competitors – a pattern of change in plant species assemblages resembling those observed during prior mass extinctions in the fossil record (which are based solely on losses of Marine taxa; McElwain and Punyasena 2007).  As a result, the term “extinct in the wild” may already be obsolete and “Homogocene” may be as good a name for our new geological epoch as <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropocene">Anthropocene</a> (Rosenzweig 2001, Ellis 2011).  Only about 100 of 300,000 plant species are known to be extinct (<a href="http://www.iucnredlist.org/about/summary-statistics">IUCN red list</a>; though most extinctions are probably unknown).  Moreover, it appears that novel ecosystems enriched in exotics tend to sustain rather than diminish ecosystem functioning (Mascaro et al. 2012)</p> <p> </p> <p>Global stewardship of biodiversity will require fundamental advances in global scientific understanding of how native species can be conserved within the novel plant communities created and sustained by human systems across most of the  terrestrial biosphere in the Anthropocene. </p> <p> </p> <p><strong>We challenge the biodiversity and global change communities to replace our model-based global assessment with global observations.</strong>  We realize that this is no small task.  To get there we will likely need to change the way we study global change and conserve biodiversity- to acquire biodiversity data across regional landscapes globally will likely require an unprecedented level of open-source scientific crowd-sourcing and conservation collaboration (Anstey 2012, Lin 2012).  Yet the future of biodiversity on this planet will depend on it (<a href="http://breakthroughjournal.org/content/authors/erle-ellis/the-planet-of-no-return.shtml">Ellis 2011a</a>)</p> <p> </p> <p>And maybe then we will finally get to test our hypothesis!</p> <p> </p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">The paper</span>: </strong></p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Ellis, E. C., E. C. Antill, and H. Kreft. 2012. All is not loss: plant biodiversity in the Anthropocene. <a href="http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0030535"><em>PLoS ONE</em> 7:e30535.</a></p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Research web site</span>: </strong><a href="http://ecotope.org/anthromes/biodiversity/plants">http://ecotope.org/anthromes/biodiversity/plants</a></p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Global maps of plant biodiversity</span>: </strong><a href="http://ecotope.org/anthromes/biodiversity/plants/maps">http://ecotope.org/anthromes/biodiversity/plants/maps</a></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Media/blogs:</strong></span></p> <ul> <li><strong>NYTimes: How Humans Spread Both Ecological Disruption and Diversity: </strong><a href="http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/19/how-humans-spread-both-ecological-disruption-and-diversity/">http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/19/how-humans-spread-both-ecological-disruption-and-diversity/</a> </li> <li><strong><strong>PRI Science Podcast: Humans Increase Plant Diversity:</strong><span style="font-weight: normal;"> </span><a style="font-weight: normal;" href="http://www.world-science.org/podcast/humans-help-plant-diversity-earworms-sticky-tunes-in-our-heads/">http://www.world-science.org/podcast/humans-help-plant-diversity-earworms-sticky-tunes-in-our-heads/</a></strong></li> <li><strong>Restoration, Natives and Invaders by Moderator Scott Weidensaul: </strong><a href="http://wildread.blogspot.com/2012/01/restoration-natives-and-invaders-by.html">http://wildread.blogspot.com/2012/01/restoration-natives-and-invaders-by.html</a></li> <li><strong>Paradise is Not Lost, It’s Just Different: </strong><a href="http://umbcinsights.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/paradise-is-not-lost-its-just-different/">http://umbcinsights.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/paradise-is-not-lost-its-just-different/</a></li> </ul> <p> </p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">References Cited</span></strong></p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Anstey, Caroline. “Empowering Citizen Cartographers.” <em>The New York Times</em>, January 13, 2012, sec. Opinion. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/14/opinion/empowering-citizen-cartographers.html">http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/14/opinion/empowering-citizen-cartographers.html</a>.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Barnosky, A. D., N. Matzke, S. Tomiya, G. O. U. Wogan, B. Swartz, T. B. Quental, C. Marshall, J. L. McGuire, E. L. Lindsey, K. C. Maguire, B. Mersey, and E. A. Ferrer. 2011. Has the Earth's sixth mass extinction already arrived? <a href="http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v471/n7336/full/nature09678.html"><em>Nature</em> 471:51-57</a>.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Ellis E.C. 2011. Anthropogenic transformation of the terrestrial biosphere.<em> </em><a href="http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1938/1010.full.pdf+html"><em>Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Science,</em> <strong>369</strong>:1010-1035</a>.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Ellis E. 2011a. <a href="http://breakthroughjournal.org/content/authors/erle-ellis/the-planet-of-no-return.shtml">The Planet of No Return: Human Resilience on an Artificial Earth. In: Love Your Monsters: Postenvironmentalism and the Anthropocene. (eds Shellenberger M, Nordhaus T), Breakthrough Institute.</a></p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Ellis E. C., Ramankutty N. 2008. Putting people in the map: anthropogenic biomes of the world. <em><a href="http://ecotope.org/people/ellis/papers/ellis_2010.pdf">Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 6:439-447</a></em>.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Ellis, E. C., E. C. Antill, and H. Kreft. 2012. All is not loss: plant biodiversity in the Anthropocene. <a href="http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0030535"><em>PLoS ONE</em> 7:e30535.</a></p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Grenyer R, Orme CDL, Jackson SF et al. (2006) Global distribution and conservation of rare and threatened vertebrates. <em>Nature</em>, 444, 93-96.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Hobbs RJ, Higgs E, Harris JA (2009) Novel ecosystems: implications for conservation and restoration. <em>Trends in Ecology & Evolution</em>, 24, 599-605.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Isbell F, Calcagno V, Hector A et al. (2011) High plant diversity is needed to maintain ecosystem services. <em>Nature</em> <strong>477</strong>:199–202.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Kier G, Mutke J, Dinerstein E, Ricketts TH, Kuper W, Kreft H, Barthlott W (2005) Global patterns of plant diversity and floristic knowledge.<em> Journal of Biogeography</em>, 32, 1107-1116.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Kreft H, Jetz W. 2007. Global patterns and determinants of vascular plant diversity. <a href="http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/0608361104v1"><em>PNAS</em>, 104, 5925–5930</a>.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Lin, Thomas. “‘Open Science’ Challenges Journal Tradition With Web Collaboration.” <em>The New York Times</em>, January 16, 2012, sec. Science. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/17/science/open-science-challenges-journal-tradition-with-web-collaboration.html">http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/17/science/open-science-challenges-journal-tradition-with-web-collaboration.html</a>.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Lonsdale WM (1999) Global patterns of plant invasions and the concept of invasibility. <em>Ecology</em>, 80, 1522-1536.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">McElwain, J. C., and S. W. Punyasena. 2007. Mass extinction events and the plant fossil record. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2007.09.003"><em>Trends in Ecology & Evolution</em> 22:548-557</a>.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Mascaro, J., R. F. Hughes, and S. A. Schnitzer. 2012 (in press). Novel forests maintain ecosystem processes after the decline of native tree species. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/11-1014.1"><em>Ecological Monographs</em></a> [<a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/11-1014.1">http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/11-1014.1</a>].</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Monfreda C, Ramankutty N, Foley JA (2008) Farming the planet: 2. Geographic distribution of crop areas, yields, physiological types, and net primary production in the year 2000.<em> Global Biogeochemical Cycles</em>, 22, GB1022.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Noss, R. F. 1990. Indicators for Monitoring Biodiversity: A Hierarchical Approach. <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1523-1739.1990.tb00309.x/abstract"><em>Conservation Biology</em> 4:355-364</a>.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Rosenzweig M (2001) The four questions: what does the introduction of exotic species do to diversity? <em>Evolutionary Ecology Research</em>, 3:361-367.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Sax DF, Gaines SD (2003) Species diversity: from global decreases to local increases. <em>Trends in Ecology & Evolution</em>, 18, 561-566.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Schipper J, Chanson JS, Chiozza F et al. (2008) The Status of the World's Land and Marine Mammals: Diversity, Threat, and Knowledge. <em>Science</em>, 322, 225-230.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Stohlgren TJ, Barnett DT, Jarnevich CS, Flather C, Kartesz J (2008) The myth of plant species saturation. <em>Ecology Letters</em>, 11, 313-322.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Tilman D, May RM, Lehman CL, Nowak MA (1994) Habitat destruction and the extinction debt. <em>Nature</em> 371: 65-66.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;">Vitousek PM, Dantonio CM, Loope LL, Rejmanek M, Westbrooks R (1997) Introduced species: A significant component of human-caused global change. <em>New Zealand Journal of Ecology</em>, 21, 1-16.</p> http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2012/01/18/All-is-not-loss-Plant-Biodiversity-in-the-Anthropocene.aspx http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2012/01/18/All-is-not-loss-Plant-Biodiversity-in-the-Anthropocene.aspx#comment http://ecotope.org/blogs/post.aspx?id=338c1acd-23b3-444d-9968-e13ee8d38bd0 Wed, 18 Jan 2012 12:56:00 -0500 Anthromes Ecosystems Global Change Erle http://ecotope.org/blogs/pingback.axd http://ecotope.org/blogs/post.aspx?id=338c1acd-23b3-444d-9968-e13ee8d38bd0 0 http://ecotope.org/blogs/trackback.axd?id=338c1acd-23b3-444d-9968-e13ee8d38bd0 http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2012/01/18/All-is-not-loss-Plant-Biodiversity-in-the-Anthropocene.aspx#comment http://ecotope.org/blogs/syndication.axd?post=338c1acd-23b3-444d-9968-e13ee8d38bd0 Thinking Systems <p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1603580557/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=theecotopemap-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1603580557"><img style="background-image: none; margin: 0px 10px 5px 0px; padding-left: 0px; padding-right: 0px; display: inline; float: left; padding-top: 0px; border: 0px;" title="image" src="http://ecotope.org/blogs/image.axd?picture=image_6.png" border="0" alt="image" width="204" height="161" align="left" /></a></p> <p>As the fate of the Earth system becomes ever more intertwined with human systems, “thinking in systems” has become more essential than ever.  I've read books on systems theory (e.g. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0231069197/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=theecotopemap-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0231069197">Allen & Hoekstra 1993</a>), but a refresher is always good, so when I came across <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1603580557/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=theecotopemap-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1603580557"><em>Thinking in Systems: A Primer</em> by Donella Meadows</a> (Amazon recommends!), I thought-  here's a great chance to review the basics again.  A long trip to Australia for a land systems workshop finally gave me a chance to read it.  </p> <p> </p> <p>Meadow’s best known work is <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0876639015/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=theecotopemap-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0876639015"><em>The Limits to Growth</em></a>, so I was expecting lengthy sermons on the limits of human systems and “human carrying capacity”.   Still I remained hopeful that the teachings of an acclaimed “”systems master” would teach me new things and deepen my understanding.   I was not disappointed. </p> <p> </p> <p>The book begins with the fundamentals, including system boundaries, feedbacks, delays, hierarchy and emergence. The reader is then toured through a “zoo” of common system structures and behaviors. Finally, Meadows applies systems thinking towards system-level management strategies that produce better results when dealing with complex dynamic systems, focusing on human/environment interactions. In this, she makes very clear the limits to managing complex systems and the risks of creating even worse results, for example by overcompensating for delayed effects and overreacting to negative system outcomes ("Drift to Low Performance”).</p> <p> </p> <p>While Meadows repeatedly refers to human limits and carrying capacity, these are not a major theme of the book, and serve more as a touchstone for old-school environmentalist readers than as important systems concepts. However in failing to connect with recent systems work on <a href="http://www.resalliance.org/index.php/resilience">resilience</a>, the book is a bit dated, though the fundamental processes behind this approach are well covered, including system transitions, thresholds, adaptation and system traps.</p> <p> </p> <p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1603580557/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=theecotopemap-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1603580557"><em>Thinking in Systems</em></a> aims to teach the core of systems thinking to anyone: an ambitious and important goal. In this Meadows succeeds. From beginning to end, the writing is clear and informative, flows along and is illuminated by entertaining anecdotes. It was a pleasure to read- I consumed the entire book in three enjoyable sittings. I'd recommend <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1603580557/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=theecotopemap-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1603580557"><em>Thinking in Systems</em></a> to anyone interested in human systems or earth systems, whether starting out with systems theory or in need of a “back to basics” refresher (like me!).  I will certainly be passing the book on to interested students.</p> <p> </p> <p>I especially enjoyed Meadow’s remarkably fresh insights about the importance of systems thinking in understanding and managing the increasingly powerful, and  dynamic interactions of human and biophysical systems.  There is much wisdom here, especially in appreciating the potential of human systems to guide the Anthropocene in new and positive directions.  From the book:</p> <p> </p> <ul> <li><em>“Being less surprised by complex systems is mainly a matter of learning to expect, appreciate, and use the world's complexity”</em>. (pg 111) </li> <li><em>"Why are people so easily convinced of their powerlessness?  How do they become so cynical about their ability to achieve their visions?  Why are they more likely to listen to people who tell them they can't make changes then they are to those who tell them that they can?" … "Systems thinking leads to another conclusion however, waiting, shining, obvious, as soon as we stop being blinded by the illusion of control."...  "The future can't be predicted, but it can be envisioned and brought lovingly into being.”</em> (p169) </li> <li><em>"What's appropriate when you're learning is small steps, constant monitoring, and a willingness to change course as you find out more about where its leading."</em>  (pg180) </li> <li><em>"It takes a lot of courage to embrace your errors."</em> (quote from psychologist Don Michael)  … "<em>when addressing complex social issues, acting as if we knew what we were doing simply decreases our credibility". ..."Error-embracing is the condition for learning."</em> (pg181) </li> </ul> <p>Sage advice, as we feel our way into our new role as the guiding force of Earth systems.  To close, Meadows offers an excellent credo for humanity in the Anthropocene:</p> <p> </p> <p>"<strong><em>Don't erode the goal of goodness." … "Don't weigh the bad news more heavily than the good</em></strong>." (p183)</p> http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2011/12/16/Thinking-Systems.aspx http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2011/12/16/Thinking-Systems.aspx#comment http://ecotope.org/blogs/post.aspx?id=a0eb46d8-d443-4504-bff0-0bacef9eebaa Fri, 16 Dec 2011 18:34:00 -0500 Methods Sustainability Erle http://ecotope.org/blogs/pingback.axd http://ecotope.org/blogs/post.aspx?id=a0eb46d8-d443-4504-bff0-0bacef9eebaa 0 http://ecotope.org/blogs/trackback.axd?id=a0eb46d8-d443-4504-bff0-0bacef9eebaa http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2011/12/16/Thinking-Systems.aspx#comment http://ecotope.org/blogs/syndication.axd?post=a0eb46d8-d443-4504-bff0-0bacef9eebaa Building a Toolbox for Global Thinking <p><img style="margin: 0px 10px 5px 0px; display: inline; float: left;" src="http://ecotope.org/projects/globe/images/tai_lake_global_Capture_small.png" alt="" width="200" height="107" align="left" /> Acting locally: no problem.  Thinking globally: big problem!  To solve global problems, we need global understanding of local change. Yet no matter how hard we try, it remains extremely difficult to think globally.  Even in a world where Earth’s entire surface is scanned daily by satellites and made available online.  Even as all of human knowledge and most of humanity now seem accessible online.  Even for us scientists who’s bread and butter is the study of global change.</p> <p><br /> To run this planet better in the <a href="http://www.economist.com/node/18741749">Anthropocene</a>, this situation must change.  We must get better at thinking globally.</p> <p> </p> <p>What if we could build a new set of tools for thinking globally? What if we could easily identify and network with local knowledge and expertise outside of our locales but relevant to our local situation? What if it was simple to determine the global relevance of our local knowledge? To automatically identify local holes in our global understanding and fill them by connecting to knowledge, expertise and social networks across globally similar local conditions? What if we had tools that could connect together local knowledge and expertise from around the world, transforming it into global knowledge? And what if these tools were smart, learning from how we interact with others globally and using this to improve the productivity of these interactions? In brief, what if it became easier to think globally?</p> <p> </p> <p>Thanks to a <a href="http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=1125210">major new four year grant</a> from <a href="http://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/cdi/">NSF’s Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation (CDI) Program</a>, we may now have a chance to see what such tools might accomplish. The grant will fund the development of a <a href="http://ecotope.org/projects/globe">“Global Collaboration Engine” (GLOBE)</a> by <a href="http://ecotope.org/people/ellis">myself</a> and an <a href="http://ecotope.org/projects/globe/people/">interdisciplinary collaboration of environmental, geographic, computer and information scientists at UMBC</a> and others in partnership with the <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/104/52/20666.abstract">land change science</a> community. The aim is to bring a powerful new cyber-toolkit for thinking globally into daily use by the scientists most concerned with the global impacts of local change and the local impacts of global change.</p> <p> </p> <p>Making <a href="http://ecotope.org/projects/globe">GLOBE</a> work will be a tremendous challenge.  Engaging a diverse group of scientists in embracing a new scientific process for global thinking will be even harder.  But <a href="http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/a_journey_of_a_thousand_miles_begins_with_a_single_step">the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step</a>.  Let’s hope this will be a step forward in the Anthropocene.</p> http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2011/09/06/Building-a-Toolbox-for-Global-Thinking.aspx http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2011/09/06/Building-a-Toolbox-for-Global-Thinking.aspx#comment http://ecotope.org/blogs/post.aspx?id=5f5c8338-fa87-42cb-ac9a-75941a1bec3a Tue, 06 Sep 2011 17:24:00 -0500 Global Change Methods Erle http://ecotope.org/blogs/pingback.axd http://ecotope.org/blogs/post.aspx?id=5f5c8338-fa87-42cb-ac9a-75941a1bec3a 0 http://ecotope.org/blogs/trackback.axd?id=5f5c8338-fa87-42cb-ac9a-75941a1bec3a http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2011/09/06/Building-a-Toolbox-for-Global-Thinking.aspx#comment http://ecotope.org/blogs/syndication.axd?post=5f5c8338-fa87-42cb-ac9a-75941a1bec3a Naturalism in the Anthropocene <p><a href="http://www.emmamarris.com/"><img style="background-image: none; margin: 0px 10px 5px 0px; padding-left: 0px; padding-right: 0px; display: inline; float: left; padding-top: 0px; border: 0px;" title="image" src="http://ecotope.org/blogs/image.axd?picture=image_4.png" border="0" alt="image" width="244" height="151" align="left" /></a>What happens when a talented science writer brings together a diverse group of ecologists and conservationists chasing a new vision of nature?  If that writer is <a href="http://www.emmamarris.com/" target="_blank">Emma Marris</a>, the answer is: <a href="http://www.emmamarris.com/rambunctious-garden/" target="_blank"><em>Rambunctious Garden</em></a>- <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1608190323/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=theecotopemap-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399373&creativeASIN=1608190323" target="_blank">a new book to be released this September 1</a>. <br /> <br />Using her great gift for storytelling, Marris tours the reader through the contemporary ecological labyrinth that constitutes "saving nature in a post-wild world", weaving together stories gained from years of reporting in the field with ecologists and conservationists.  [FULL DISCLOSURE] I first met Emma in 2009 at an <a href="http://www.esa.org/albuquerque/" target="_blank">Ecological Society of America conference</a>, together with other scientists she had invited to chat with over beer.  I wa<a href="http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=theecotopemap-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=1608190323"><img style="background-image: none; margin: 5px 10px 5px 0px; padding-left: 0px; padding-right: 0px; display: inline; float: left; padding-top: 0px; border-width: 0px;" title="image" src="http://ecotope.org/blogs/image.axd?picture=image_5.png" border="0" alt="image" width="162" height="244" align="left" /></a>s there as a result of her having asked me earlier to <a href="http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2009/07/23/The-Nature-within-now-matters-most.aspx">map and estimate the global extent of novel ecosystems</a> for <a href="http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090722/full/460450a.html" target="_blank">her wonderful article on this in Nature</a> (<a href="http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090722/full/460450a.html" target="_blank">Marris 2009</a>).  I was surprised and encouraged to meet such a joyful and inquisitive writer on the environmental conservation beat- which all too often seems a venue for those interested in reporting on the end of the world.   I've since met her a few times at conferences and continue to admire her rambunctiousness - I can say without hesitation that the title of her book applies just as well to her personality, and most importantly, to her writing. <br /> <br /><em><strong>Reader:  prepare to become</strong> <strong>enthusiastic about the prospects for conserving nature in the <a href="http://www.economist.com/node/18741749" target="_blank">Anthropocene</a></strong></em>.  The book comprises ten chapters on different conservation themes ranging from the trials of conserving wild nature in reserves, to the possibilities of "rewilding" Europe with large herbivores, the opportunities of managing biodiversity in used and working landscapes, and the prospects of designer ecosystems made to please.  In all of this, Marris tells the story through her work in the field with the people who do science and conservation around the world- a story very few have the experience to tell at all, let alone one with the writing skills and the spirit to make these stories come alive.  In the end, she brings together these themes and stories into a new and positive vision of the nature we can create, if only we can get beyond the idea that the best nature is that untouched by human hands. <br /> <br />The educated public and students of every level, from high school through graduate school, along with ecologists and conservationists of all stripes, will enjoy voyaging with Emma and her fellow travelers across this new world of conservation as it is playing out in the field.  In the process, our current and future generations may yet rise to embrace and nurture the new nature we are creating rather than simply playing the tired and wildly unsuccessful old game of trying to stamp it out faster than we can create it.  As one of a growing number of scientists travelling in this same direction, it feels so good to see this new vision translated into great stories and invigorating messages.  With luck, this book and the others sure to follow will help lead the way to a new and more rewarding form of naturalism in the Anthropocene. <br /> <br /></p> http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2011/08/25/Naturalism-in-the-Anthropocene.aspx http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2011/08/25/Naturalism-in-the-Anthropocene.aspx#comment http://ecotope.org/blogs/post.aspx?id=2e8b6b3d-062e-4bb8-b4f6-08c09ee72879 Thu, 25 Aug 2011 14:58:00 -0500 Ecosystems Global Change Erle http://ecotope.org/blogs/pingback.axd http://ecotope.org/blogs/post.aspx?id=2e8b6b3d-062e-4bb8-b4f6-08c09ee72879 0 http://ecotope.org/blogs/trackback.axd?id=2e8b6b3d-062e-4bb8-b4f6-08c09ee72879 http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2011/08/25/Naturalism-in-the-Anthropocene.aspx#comment http://ecotope.org/blogs/syndication.axd?post=2e8b6b3d-062e-4bb8-b4f6-08c09ee72879 Rocking the Anthropocene <div><a href="http://ecotope.org/blogs/image.axd?picture=IMG_1426.jpg"><img style="background-image: none; margin: 0px 10px 5px 0px; padding-left: 0px; padding-right: 0px; display: inline; float: left; padding-top: 0px; border: 0px;" title="IMG_1426" src="http://ecotope.org/blogs/image.axd?picture=IMG_1426_thumb.jpg" border="0" alt="IMG_1426" width="204" height="154" align="left" /></a></div> <div>If media attention is any measure of popular thinking- then we have indeed finally arrived in the <a href="http://www.eoearth.org/article/Anthropocene">Anthropocene</a>.   Thanks to the leadership (and hard work) of <a href="http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/geology/extranet/staff/academic-and-research-staff/jaz1">Jan Zalasiewicz</a>, who initiated and convened the Anthropocene Working Group of the International  <a href="http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/anthropoceneconf">in London two weeks ago</a>, there has been a true media feeding frenzy on the Anthropocene (see recent media roundup below).  As <a href="http://www.anu.edu.au/climatechange/content/author/will">Will Steffen</a> has noted- we have now gone beyond the first stages of the Anthropocene, in which we’ve changed the Earth system without intending to, and have arrived at a new and critical stage: recognizing that we are now in the drivers seat and starting to manage this planet for the long term.  With good luck, we may yet get to the next stage - where we gain the wisdom and capabilities needed to govern the Earth system sustainably for millennia or longer- thereby establishing the Anthropocene  as a true geological epoch rather than a mere geological event.</div> <div>There can be no doubt now that the doors of perception have opened on a new age of this planet’s evolution. The time has come for a vast human rethinking of our situation and our plans for the future.  There is so much to say, so much to know, so much to think about.</div> <div>For now I’ll just meditate on these two poems while I sit here in this ancient village in Anhui, China (I’m here for field research)- where generations have lived and worked, in the process creating and sustaining a human ecology that is at the same time beautiful, biodiverse and functional. </div> <blockquote>The farmers plow in spring, weed in summer, reap in fall, and store away in winter.  Because they do each at the proper season, there is a never-ending supply of grain and the people have more than enough to eat.  Because the lakes and rivers are watched over carefully and closed off at the proper time, there is an ever increasing supply of fish and other water creatures and the people have more than they can use.  Because the felling of trees and cutting of brush is done only at the proper time, the hills are never denuded and yet the people have all the wood they need.  These are the measures of a sage king. <br /><strong>Xun Zi</strong><small>, (310-212 BC)</small>.</blockquote> <blockquote> <div>The girls go drawing the water from the brook, <br />The men go gathering firewood on the hill... <br />Alive, they are the people of Che'en Village; <br />Dead, they become the dust of Che'en Village <br /><strong>Po Chü-I</strong><small>, Ninth Century A.D</small>.</div> </blockquote> <div><strong>Recent Media on the Anthropocene based on London meeting:</strong></div> <div>Nature: <a href="http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110510/full/473133a.html">http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110510/full/473133a.html</a></div> <div>AFP: <a href="http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-extreme-makeover-humans-reshaping-earth.html">http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-extreme-makeover-humans-reshaping-earth.html</a></div> <div><a href="http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=effbffbb675cbf21ac503c46538eeb17">Dot Earth: Confronting the '<em>Anthropocene</em>'</a></div> <div><a href="http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/material/material_20110512-1730a.mp3">BBC Radio 4: Material World (podcast)</a></div> <div><a href="http://blogs.reuters.com/environment/2011/05/11/enviro-word-of-the-moment-anthropocene/">Reuters: Enviro-word of the moment</a></div> <div><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/05/19/the-age-of-anthropocene-should-we-worry">NY Times: The Age of Anthropocene: Should We Worry?</a></div> <div><a href="http://www.economist.com/node/18741749"><img style="margin: 0px 10px 5px 0px; display: inline; float: left;" src="data:image/jpg;base64,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" alt="" align="left" /></a></div> <div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.economist.com/node/18741749"><span style="font-size: small;">Cover story in the The Economist: May 26, 2011</span></a></div> <div><a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLCa1njCK0E">Tea with Erle Ellis on the Anthropocene</a></div> <div> </div> <div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/jun/03/geologists-human-epoch-anthropocene">Guardian: Geologists press for recognition of Earth-changing 'human epoch'</a></div> <p>‎</p> http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2011/06/03/Rocking-the-Anthropocene.aspx http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2011/06/03/Rocking-the-Anthropocene.aspx#comment http://ecotope.org/blogs/post.aspx?id=853fd306-bd5c-4ad7-8be4-8606de90356a Fri, 03 Jun 2011 19:59:00 -0500 Global Change Sustainability Erle http://ecotope.org/blogs/pingback.axd http://ecotope.org/blogs/post.aspx?id=853fd306-bd5c-4ad7-8be4-8606de90356a 0 http://ecotope.org/blogs/trackback.axd?id=853fd306-bd5c-4ad7-8be4-8606de90356a http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2011/06/03/Rocking-the-Anthropocene.aspx#comment http://ecotope.org/blogs/syndication.axd?post=853fd306-bd5c-4ad7-8be4-8606de90356a Anthropocene is forever <p><img style="margin: 0px 10px 5px 0px; display: inline; float: left;" src="http://images.fastcompany.com/upload/42330-1.jpg" alt="smokestacks" width="200" height="134" align="left" />"Global warming is essentially forever." states David Archer in <a href="http://bit.ly/fFJPLT">a nice blog post at fast company</a> about the long-term effects of our current carbon emissions to the atmosphere.  Yet more evidence that <a href="http://www.eoearth.org/article/Anthropocene">the Anthropocene</a> is here to stay.  Reminds me of one of my first blog posts - <a href="http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2008/08/26/Is-managing-global-climate-now-our-duty.aspx">Is managing global climate now our duty?</a>    Just as we’ve <a href="http://ecotope.org/anthromes">made the biosphere our own</a>, the climate system is now our system. </p> <p>More on the history and future of the <a href="http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/anthropoceneconf">Anthropocene coming soon</a>!</p> http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2011/03/26/Anthropocene-is-forever.aspx http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2011/03/26/Anthropocene-is-forever.aspx#comment http://ecotope.org/blogs/post.aspx?id=2060a5f4-7c0b-4b89-9766-bfdc14b926d7 Sat, 26 Mar 2011 11:20:00 -0500 Global Change Erle http://ecotope.org/blogs/pingback.axd http://ecotope.org/blogs/post.aspx?id=2060a5f4-7c0b-4b89-9766-bfdc14b926d7 0 http://ecotope.org/blogs/trackback.axd?id=2060a5f4-7c0b-4b89-9766-bfdc14b926d7 http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2011/03/26/Anthropocene-is-forever.aspx#comment http://ecotope.org/blogs/syndication.axd?post=2060a5f4-7c0b-4b89-9766-bfdc14b926d7 Malthus is still wrong: energetic limits to human systems <p><a href="http://ecotope.org/blogs/image.axd?picture=image_3.png"><img style="background-image: none; margin: 0px 10px 5px 0px; padding-left: 0px; padding-right: 0px; display: inline; float: left; padding-top: 0px; border-width: 0px;" title="image" src="http://ecotope.org/blogs/image.axd?picture=image_thumb_1.png" border="0" alt="image" width="244" height="224" align="left" /></a></p> <p>“Large amounts of energy will be required to fuel economic growth, increase standards of living, and lift developing nations out of poverty.” (Brown et al., 2011; see Figure at left). </p> <p> </p> <p>A key message from Brown et al. in their must-read empirical and theoretical summary of relationships between energy and economic development.   The paper reveals a hard fact of human systems: increasing development is coupled with increasing energy use and both of these are going in the same direction- up! Though whether one causes the other will probably remain a chicken and egg discussion forever, they show that <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kleiber's_law">Kleiber’s 3/4 power law</a>, a foundational discovery in understanding the evolution of higher organisms, populations,  and even ecosystems also applies to human systems (as it does to social insects; eg Hou et al., 2010).  Perhaps this is not surprising given the resemblance between the network structures needed to support urban systems (roads, etc. eg. Bettencourt et al 2007), and the veins and other distribution systems needed to support the metabolism of higher organisms that are thought to give rise to these power laws.</p> <p> </p> <p>Brown et al.’s empirical and theoretical summary of the human predicament-  to move forward means to use more energy- is solid, useful, and I agree with it.  On the other hand, their jump to a <a href="http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2011/01/11/Saved!-by-Ester-Boserup.aspx">Malthusian argument</a> seems uninspired and typical.   Just because energy is required for human systems to develop does not mean that this is a limit to development.  Does energy limit the evolution of organisms?  It certainly constrains the opportunities and shapes the evolution of organisms, but it is equally an opportunity- it shows that organisms and human systems (like other living systems) have a clear path towards development- by using more energy. </p> <p> </p> <p>The power law relationships revealed by Brown et al. indicate that to support the world population in 2050 in the current US lifestyle would require 16 times the current global energy use.  This is a huge number- and not much better if we substitute Switzerland's per capita energy use (about half that of the USA).  It is also true that our use of carbon-based energy is already changing global climate, fossil fuel use is ultimately unsustainable, the alternatives are expensive, and that in the process of using more energy we humans will change the world even more (Smil 2005).  But who would have imagined 300 years ago that humans could fuel a developing society without using more wood and horses, or the changes in living standards and longevity associated with the move to more energy-rich societies?  While we are changing the world forever, the evolution of human systems is just beginning.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Media links:</strong></p> <p>A Physicist Solves the City: <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/19/magazine/19Urban_West-t.html">http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/19/magazine/19Urban_West-t.html</a></p> <p>Doomsayers Beware, a Bright Future Beckons: <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/18/science/18tier.html?_r=1">http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/18/science/18tier.html?_r=1</a></p> <p> </p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">References cited</span></strong></p> <p><strong>Bettencourt</strong>, L. M. A., Lobo, J., Helbing, D., Kühnert, C. & West, G. B. (2007) Growth, innovation, scaling, and the pace of life in cities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104, 7301-7306.</p> <p><strong>Brown, J.,</strong> Burnside, W., Davidson, A., Delong, J., Dunn, W., Hamilton, M., Nekola, J., Okie, J. & Mercado-Silva, N. (2011) Energetic limits to economic growth. <em>BioScience</em>, 61, 19-26. <<a href="http://www.aibs.org/bioscience-press-releases/resources/Davidson.pdf">download the paper</a>></p> <p><strong>Hou, C.,</strong> Kaspari, M., Vander Zanden, H. B. & Gillooly, J. F. (2010-in press) Energetic basis of colonial living in social insects. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. <<a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/01/21/0908071107.abstract">link to paper</a>> <br /><strong>Kleiber. Max</strong> (1932). "Body size and metabolism". Hilgardia 6: 315–351.</p> <p><strong>Smil</strong>, V. (2005) Energy at the crossroads: global perspectives and uncertainties, edn. The MIT Press.</p> http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2011/01/27/Malthus-is-still-wrong-energetic-limits-to-human-systems.aspx http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2011/01/27/Malthus-is-still-wrong-energetic-limits-to-human-systems.aspx#comment http://ecotope.org/blogs/post.aspx?id=0e48e1f1-0acb-4516-ba14-96cc22933970 Thu, 27 Jan 2011 11:48:00 -0500 Global Change Sustainability Erle http://ecotope.org/blogs/pingback.axd http://ecotope.org/blogs/post.aspx?id=0e48e1f1-0acb-4516-ba14-96cc22933970 0 http://ecotope.org/blogs/trackback.axd?id=0e48e1f1-0acb-4516-ba14-96cc22933970 http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2011/01/27/Malthus-is-still-wrong-energetic-limits-to-human-systems.aspx#comment http://ecotope.org/blogs/syndication.axd?post=0e48e1f1-0acb-4516-ba14-96cc22933970 Saved! by Ester Boserup <p><a href="http://ecotope.org/blogs/image.axd?picture=boserup_vs_malthus.png"><img style="background-image: none; padding-left: 0px; padding-right: 0px; display: inline; float: left; padding-top: 0px; border-width: 0px;" title="boserup_vs_malthus_thumb" src="http://ecotope.org/blogs/image.axd?picture=boserup_vs_malthus_thumb.png" border="0" alt="boserup_vs_malthus_thumb" width="244" height="202" align="left" /></a>Human populations grow until they overshoot their carrying capacity and collapse. Game over.  Thank you <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Robert_Malthus">Malthus</a>! (1798; and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Population_Bomb">Ehrlich</a> 1968).</p> <p>Not so fast! There’s something wrong with this story: it almost never happens.   Human populations do collapse – but not because of population growth itself; collapses are most commonly related to disease, climate change or societal failures (eg. Zhang et al. 2011).  Generally, human populations continue to grow, <em>lifting their environmental carrying capacity as they go</em>.\</p> <p>I first encountered this reality when studying long-term ecological changes in the <a href="http://ecotope.org/people/ellis/research/tai_lake/">ancient villages of China’s Tai La</a><a href="http://ecotope.org/people/ellis/research/tai_lake/">ke Region</a> (Ellis and Wang 1997; Ellis et al. 2000).  Long-sustained population growth in this densely populated region went against all of my biological training- <em>surely every population must have a </em><em>carrying capacity! (“</em>Ehrlich’s error”).  But the data were clear: populations increased for millennia and so did the local food supply.  Though populations did collapse in the 1800s, this was caused by the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiping_Rebellion">Taiping rebellion</a>- not food supply.</p> <p>I was fresh out of theory.  Enter <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ester_Boserup">Ester Boserup</a>, with her theory of agricultural intensification (Boserup 1965).  Hers’ is still the most general theory explaining how human populations can continue to grow despite apparent environmental limits.  According to Boserup, as human populations increase, they adopt more productive technologies (eg. agriculture and other systems of ecosystem engineering), increasing the carrying capacity of human environments as needed.  This is not a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_utopianism">techno-utopian</a> argument.  Boserup does not imply that new technologies make life better, or that technologies are developed because they are needed- she merely posits that when people need to sustain themselves, they will do whatever it takes- even if this means using more labor or other resources.</p> <p><a href="http://ecotope.org/blogs/image.axd?picture=boserup_was_right_regular.png"><img style="background-image: none; margin: 0px 0px 5px 10px; padding-left: 0px; padding-right: 0px; display: inline; float: right; padding-top: 0px; border-width: 0px;" title="boserup_was_right_regular_thumb1" src="http://ecotope.org/blogs/image.axd?picture=boserup_was_right_regular_thumb.png" border="0" alt="boserup_was_right_regular_thumb" width="320" height="415" align="right" /></a></p> <p>Boserup’s theory of intensification has been challenged over the years but has stood firm as the core theory of agricultural land use (Turner II 2010, Stone 2001).  Better still, Boseruppian theory is alive and well- witness the recent (and wonderful!) <a href="http://www.boserup-conference.org/">Ester Boserup Centennial Tribute Conference</a>; and is <a href="http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2010/08/31/Into-the-Mind-of-a-Farmer.aspx">still inspiring</a>.  Her theory has been expanded to include all sorts of complexities (Boserup 2.0), including periods of increasing population with only minimal increases in productivity (“agricultural involution”; Geertz 1963) and even “Malthusian” phases, when populations briefly “overshoot”- though usually agricultural systems change dramatically long before this happens (“regime shifts”). <strong><em>The figure at right </em></strong>puts these theories in their most general form: the theory that human systems adapt to and evolve around environmental obstacles (Figure inspired by Billie Turner II’s presentation at the <a href="http://www.boserup-conference.org/">Boserup conference</a>; used in <a href="http://ecotope.org/people/ellis/presentations/agu_2010_poster_v2.pdf">my AGU 2010 poster</a>).</p> <p>Boserupian intensification has helped explain land clearing even in the deep past (Ruddiman and Ellis 2009).  At present, as human populations are growing and urbanizing, agricultural demand has increased so much that the most intensive agricultural systems are becoming dominant.  The good news is that the most intensive systems tend to focus on the most productive land – marginal lands are increasingly abandoned and left to regenerate ( the “forest transition”; eg. Rudel et al. 2009).   So even as we go off the end of Boserup’s chart, disaster is not the result and intensification continues- though the planet will never be the same- our agriculture has now transformed the planet for the long-term (Ellis et al. 2010).</p> <p>So far, Boserup has been right and Malthus and Ehrlich have been wrong.   And I would bet that the future will also be Boseruppian (Boserup 3.0).  We humans will be around for the long term, adapting the earth to us, and then adapting to the earth we create.   However, just like the paleolithic humans who once hunted and gathered on the land where you now sit reading this, we will never be able to imagine the Anthropocene world our progeny will create.  But maybe Boserup could have.</p> <hr /> <p><strong><a href="http://www.boserup-conference.org/"><img style="margin: 0px 10px 0px 0px; display: inline; float: left;" src="http://u.jimdo.com/www29/o/s7ebb638a9fa5809f/img/ia0bd1bbb4f71c6c6/1279535612/std/image.jpg" alt="" align="left" /></a><span style="font-size: large;">Ester Boserup <br /></span>(1910 – 1999)</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.boserup-conference.org/">Ester Boserup Centennial Tribute Conference</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.mtp.hum.ku.dk/authors/boserup-e/">“Home Page”</a></p> <p><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ester_B%C3%B6serup">Ester Boserup (Wikipedia)</a></p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p><img style="margin: 0px 0px 0px 10px; display: inline; float: left;" src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e6/Thomas_Malthus.jpg/200px-Thomas_Malthus.jpg" alt="" align="right" /></p> <p><strong><span style="font-size: medium;">Thomas Robert Malthus</span></strong></p> <p><strong>(1766 – 1834)</strong></p> <p><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Robert_Malthus">Thomas Robert Malthus </a></p> <p><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malthusian_catastrophe">“Malthusian Catastrophe”</a></p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <hr /> <p> </p> <p> <strong>See more about Human populations: </strong><strong><em>Great new feature at</em> </strong><a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/7-billion">National Geographic: Population 7 Billion</a></p> <p> </p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">References</span></strong></p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: small;"><strong>Boserup, E. 1965</strong>. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/020230793X?ie=UTF8&tag=theecotopemap-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=020230793X">The Conditions of Agricultural Growth: The Economics of Agrarian Change under Population Pressure</a>. London: <em>Allen & Unwin</em></span></p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;"><strong>Boserup, E.</strong> 1976. Environment, Population, and Technology in Primitive Societies.<em> Population and Development Review</em>, 2, 21-36.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;"><strong>Boserup, E.</strong> 1981. Population and Technological Change: A Study of Long Term Trends. Chicago: <em>University of Chicago Press</em></p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;"><strong>Ehrlich, P.</strong> 1968. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0345021711?ie=UTF8&tag=theecotopemap-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0345021711">The Population Bomb. Ballantine Books, New York</a>.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;"><strong>Ellis, E. C.</strong> & Wang, S. M. 1997. Sustainable traditional agriculture in the Tai Lake Region of China. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0167-8809(96)01099-7"><em>Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, </em>61, 177-193</a>. <<a href="http://ecotope.org/people/ellis/papers/ellis_2006.pdf">download</a>></p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;"><strong>Ellis, E. C.</strong>, Li, R. G., Yang, L. Z. & Cheng, X. 2000. Nitrogen and the sustainable village. <em>Agroecosystem Sustainability: Developing Practical Strategies</em> (ed. by S.R. Gliessman), pp 95-104. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida. <<a href="http://ecotope.org/people/ellis/papers/ellis_2000c.pdf">download</a>></p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;"><strong>Ellis, E. C.</strong>, Klein Goldewijk, K., Siebert, S., Lightman, D. & Ramankutty, N. 2010 Anthropogenic transformation of the biomes, 1700 to 2000. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 19, 589-606. <<a href="http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2010/08/05/The-Biosphere-we-created-1700-to-2000.aspx">get it here</a>></p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;"><strong>Geertz, C.</strong> 1963. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0520004590?ie=UTF8&tag=theecotopemap-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0520004590"><em>Agricultural Involution: The Process of Ecological Change in Indonesia</em></a>. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;"><strong>Malthus, T.R.</strong> 1798. <em>An Essay on the Principle of Population</em>, as it Affects the Future Improvement of Society, with Remarks on the Speculations of Mr Godwin, M. Condorcet, and other writers. London: J. Johnson.  <em>can be read online</em> <<a href="http://www.econlib.org/library/Malthus/malPop.html">here</a>>, and <<a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=BcNEZlXh-esC&pg=PR4#v=onepage&q=&f=false">here</a>>.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;"><strong>Rudel, T. K.,</strong> L. Schneider, M. Uriarte, B. L. Turner, R. DeFries, D. Lawrence, J. Geoghegan, S. Hecht, A. Ickowitz, E. F. Lambin, T. Birkenholtz, S. Baptista, and R. Grau. 2009. Agricultural intensification and changes in cultivated areas, 1970-2005. <em>Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</em> 106:20675-20680.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;"><strong>Ruddiman, W. F.</strong> & Ellis, E. C. 2009. Effect of Per-Capita Land use Changes on Holocene Forest Clearance and CO2 Emissions. Quaternary Science Reviews, 28, 3011-3015.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;"><strong>Stone</strong>, G. D. 2001. Theory of the square chicken: advances in agricultural intensification theory. Asia Pacific Viewpoint 42:163-180.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;"><strong>Turner II, B. L.</strong> & Fischer-Kowalski, M. (2010) Ester Boserup: An interdisciplinary visionary relevant for sustainability. <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/107/51/21963.extract">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107, 21963-21965</a>.</p> <p style="margin-top: 0pt; text-indent: -23px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 30px;"><strong>Zhang, D. D</strong>., Lee, H. F., Wang, C., Li, B., Zhang, J., Pei, Q. & Chen, J. 2011. Climate change and large-scale human population collapses in the pre-industrial era. Global Ecology and Biogeography, xx-xx <strong><a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1466-8238.2010.00625.x">http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1466-8238.2010.00625.x</a></strong>.</p> http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2011/01/11/Saved!-by-Ester-Boserup.aspx http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2011/01/11/Saved!-by-Ester-Boserup.aspx#comment http://ecotope.org/blogs/post.aspx?id=936952c5-824c-4cab-8265-472411d2ea23 Tue, 11 Jan 2011 10:52:00 -0500 Land use Sustainability Erle http://ecotope.org/blogs/pingback.axd http://ecotope.org/blogs/post.aspx?id=936952c5-824c-4cab-8265-472411d2ea23 0 http://ecotope.org/blogs/trackback.axd?id=936952c5-824c-4cab-8265-472411d2ea23 http://ecotope.org/blogs/post/2011/01/11/Saved!-by-Ester-Boserup.aspx#comment http://ecotope.org/blogs/syndication.axd?post=936952c5-824c-4cab-8265-472411d2ea23