Alexander von Humboldt was one of the founders of biogeography and ecology. He had an a crazy upbringing and strange life, but his integrative view of nature and focus on precise measurements had a strong impact on Science.
In 1802, Alexander von Humboldt mapped the distribution of plants and vegetation on the Chimborazo volcano in Ecuador.
Physical Geography. Humboldt’s Distribution of Plants in Equinoctial America, According to Elevation Above the Level of the Sea. 1839.
In a new paper in PNAS by Naia Morueta-Holme and others explain how they resurveyed Mt. Chimborazo in 2012, 200 years after Humbodlt’s visit, to discover and map what changes had occurred. Their paper includes a fantastic updated version of Humboldt’s map, which supports “Humboldt’s proposal that climate is the primary control on the altitudinal distribution of vegetation”.
An update of Humboldt’s Tableau. Shown is a summary of major changes in overall vegetation limit, average glacier limit, and shifts in topmost vegetation regions on Chimborazo from 1802 to 2012. The major drivers of change, climate, and land use change are represented by the bars to the right: a constant impact of climate change—in particular, increased temperature—the stronger relative impact of land use at the lower sites, mainly through in- tensified agriculture, and the effect of grass harvesting and local burning. Illustration of glaciers is approximate.
My colleagues and I are running an international scientific synthesis experiment that aims to collect example of projects, productions, or initiatives that people believe are examples of “seeds of a good anthropocene.”
For more information on our project see our website: http://goodanthropocenes.net/
There are many projects that have documented human inequality and damage that people are doing to the Earth. We are collecting examples that people think are best at moving the world in a better direction.
What are looking for are existing initiatives that people think are excellent embodiments of the values, processes, or ways of living that could help produce a better world. A world which is children have a fair chance at a good life, is prosperous, and is enhancing rather than simplifying the biosphere and world that is full of life, fun, and hope.
Please share your ideas with us on our website. We have a questionnaire that requires an intermediate amount of knowledge on the project and takes 5-15 min to complete.
As part of a project I am working on, I did a quick network analysis of co-authorship structure among papers in Ecology and Society. Based on this preliminary analysis, the papers below are the papers that most connect different research communities within the group of people who publish in Ecology & Society*.
- Toward a Network Perspective of the Study of Resilience in Social-Ecological Systems http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol11/iss1/art15/
- Water RATs (Resilience, Adaptability, and Transformability) in Lake and Wetland Social-Ecological Systems http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol11/iss1/art16/
- Shooting the Rapids: Navigating Transitions to Adaptive Governance of Social-Ecological Systems http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol11/iss1/art18/
- Governance and the Capacity to Manage Resilience in Regional Social-Ecological Systems http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol11/iss1/art19/
- Resilience and Regime Shifts: Assessing Cascading Effects http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol11/iss1/art20/
- Scale and Cross-Scale Dynamics: Governance and Information in a Multilevel World http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol11/iss2/art8/
- A Portfolio Approach to Analyzing Complex Human-Environment Interactions: Institutions and Land Change http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol11/iss2/art31/
- From LTER to LTSER: Conceptualizing the Socioeconomic Dimension of Long-term Socioecological Research http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol11/iss2/art13/
- Linking Futures across Scales: a Dialog on Multiscale Scenarios http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol12/iss1/art17/
- Linking Ecosystem Health Indicators and Collaborative Management: a Systematic Framework to Evaluate Ecological and Social Outcomes http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol12/iss2/art6/
- The Role of Old-growth Forests in Frequent-fire Landscapes http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol12/iss2/art18/
- Planetary Boundaries: Exploring the Safe Operating Space for Humanity http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol14/iss2/art32/
- Navigating Trade-Offs: Working for Conservation and Development Outcomes http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss2/art16/
- Spanning Boundaries in an Arizona Watershed Partnership: Information Networks as Tools for Entrenchment or Ties for Collaboration? http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss3/art22/
- Resilience and Vulnerability: Complementary or Conflicting Concepts? http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss3/art11/
- Urban Ethnohydrology: Cultural Knowledge of Water Quality and Water Management in a Desert City http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss4/art36/
- Adaptive Comanagement: a Systematic Review and Analysis http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol17/iss3/art11/
- Waypoints on a Journey of Discovery: Mental Models in Human-Environment Interactions http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol17/iss3/art23/
- Resilience Management in Social-ecological Systems: a Working Hypothesis for a Participatory Approach http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol6/iss1/art14/
- Markets Drive the Specialization Strategies of Forest Peoples http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol9/iss2/art4/
It is good to see that a network analysis paper is the paper that most connects authors.
While this set of papers has some overlap with the 20 most ‘typical’ papers of E&S, this set of papers includes a much broader set of authors and topics than those from the last post, and also includes many recent papers.
* This analysis is based on applying betweenness centrality to the network of papers defined by co-authorship relationships, not content. So, these papers are those that most link together different networks of authors.
Human material use has rapidly and massively increased over the past century. This is nicely illustrated in a 2009 paper by Krausmann and others at the Institute of Social Ecology in Vienna.
Fig. 1. Materials use by material types in the period 1900 to 2005. (a and b) total materials use in Giga tons (Gt) per yr; (c) metabolic rate (materials use in t/cap/year); (d) share of material types of total materials use.
The use of material has exploded:
- overall use of material grew 8X
- construction minerals grew 34X
- ores/industrial minerals 27X.
- fossil fuel energy carriers 12.2X
- biomass extraction 3.6X.
This expansion is due to the growth of the human economy and population. Despite advances in efficiency (i.e. the amount of materials required per unit of GDP has declined), the economy has grown faster so total materials use per capita doubled from 4.6 to 10.3 T/cap/yr.
For most of the 20th century, biomass was the most significant of the four material types in terms of mass and only in the 1990s it was overtaken by construction minerals.
In 2000, the 15% of the world’s population living in rich countries were directly responsible for 1/3 of global resource extraction; however this inequality is more pronounced for key materials the 15% of the world’s population living in rich countries consume more than 50% of fossil energy carriers, industrial minerals and metallic ores (a 6X greater rate for the 15% vs. the 85%).
If global economic development continues its current trajectory (with a population growth of 30–40% until 2050) the will be a continuing sharp rise in global material extraction.
Krausmann, F., Gingrich, S., Eisenmenger, N., Erb, K.-H., Haberl, H. & Fischer-Kowalski, M. 2009. Growth in global materials use, GDP and population during the 20th century. Ecological Economics, 68, 2696–2705. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2009.05.007
The above video on the Anthropocene was created for the Planet Under Pressure global change and sustainability conference in London, UK, which starts today, March 26th, and continues to the 29th. The movie is:
A 3-minute journey through the last 250 years of our history, from the start of the Industrial Revolution to the Rio+20 Summit. The film charts the growth of humanity into a global force on an equivalent scale to major geological processes.
It presents a contemporary picture of the world in which we live in, and how dynamics of the biosphere and the ways it supports human wellbeing. The shifting anthropocene provides the basis for how people can act to improve their lives in this decade and that provides the background for the conference.
The conference, which is attempting to better integrate the community of researchers working on sustainability and global change (importantly not just climate change), and to focus more on how to solve rather than only document problem. There are lots of resilience researchers at the conference. A partial list of Stockholm Resilience Centre participation is on our website.
The conference website is live streaming on the web, the conference programme is here, the conference has the tag #planet2012 on twitter, and also has a blog.
The conference organizers are also experimenting with a variety of atypical scientific conference activities (e.g. a debategraph, globally distributed events ) to try and improve innovation and connect the conference to the world. And that is helping me watch a bit of the conference while I am on parental leave in Stockholm.
According to google searches and news, since 2008 the news has been writing much more about crisis, but people haven’t been searching for it so much.
a search for financial crisis and euro crisis leads to a more striking result.
From US’s National Weather Service – big precipitation anomalies in US this past year. The purple areas are extra wet, while the red areas are extra dry.
Precipitation anomalies in USA for 2011 in mm
“Normal” precipitation is derived from PRISM climate data, created at Oregon State University. The PRISM gridded climate maps are considered the most detailed, highest-quality spatial climate datasets currently available. The 30 year PRISM normal from 1971-2000 is used for precipitation analysis since 2004. Prior to 2004 the 30 year PRISM normal from 1961-1990 is used.” from http://water.weather.gov/precip/about.php