Artificial intelligence, systemic risks, and sustainability

Automated decision making and predictive analytics through artificial intelligence, in combination with rapid progress in technologies such as sensor technology and robotics are likely to change the way individuals, communities, governments and private actors perceive and respond to climate and ecological change. Methods based on various forms of artificial intelligence are already today being applied in a number of research fields related to climate change…

Anthropocene Risk

The potential consequences of cross-scale systemic environmental risks with global effects are increasing. We argue that current descriptions of globally connected systemic risk poorly capture the role of human–environment interactions. This creates a bias towards solutions that ignore the new realities of the Anthropocene. We develop an integrated concept of what we denote Anthropocene risk—that is, risks that: emerge from human-driven processes; interact with global…

Dancing on the volcano: social exploration in times of discontent

Radical recent developments such as Brexit, the rise of extreme nationalism, the gilets jaunes, polarizing leaders, the Arab Spring, and fundamentalist movements are indications of societal discontent with the status quo. Other societal phenomena such as gender fluidity, veganism, and bartering are also associated with a perceived need to change. The context is the Anthropocene, a human-dominated biosphere challenging the resilience of a livable planet….

Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene

We explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a “Hothouse Earth” pathway even as human emissions are reduced. Crossing the threshold would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2 million years…

Marine ecosystem science on an intertwined planet

Marine ecosystem science has developed since the 1940s, when humans obtained the ability to spend substantial time underneath the surface of the ocean. Since then, and drawing on several decades of scientific advances, a number of exciting research frontiers have emerged. We find: Under- standing interacting drivers of change, Identifying thresholds in ecosystems, and Investigating social-ecological dynamics to represent particularly interesting frontiers, which we speculate…

Social-ecological resilience and biosphere-based sustainability science

Humanity has emerged as a major force in the operation of the biosphere. The focus is shifting from the environment as externality to the biosphere as precondition for social justice, economic development, and sustainability. In this article, we exemplify the intertwined nature of social-ecological systems and emphasize that they operate within, and as embedded parts of the biosphere and as such coevolve with and depend…

Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene

We explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a “Hothouse Earth” pathway even as human emissions are reduced. Crossing the threshold would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2 million years…

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