PUBLICATION Journal article

Connecting human behaviour, meaning and nature

Much of the discourse around climate change and the situation of diverse human societies and cultures in the Anthropocene focuses on responding to scientific understanding of the dynamics of the biosphere by adjusting existing institutional and organizational structures. Our emerging scientific understanding of human behaviour and the mechanisms that enable groups to achieve large-scale coordination and cooperation suggests that incrementally adjusting existing institutions and organizations will not be sufficient to confront current global-scale challenges. Specifically, the transaction costs of operating institutions to induce selfish rational actors to consider social welfare in their decision-making are too high. Rather, we highlight the importance of networks of shared stories that become real—imagined orders—that create context, meaning and shared purpose for framing decisions and guiding action. We explore imagined orders that have contributed to bringing global societies to where they are and propose elements of a science-informed imagined order essential to enabling societies to flourish in the Anthropocene biosphere.

Anderies, J.M. and C. Folke. 2024. Connecting human behaviour, meaning and nature. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 379: 20220314.