Spring 2018: Introduction to Mitigation and Adaptation Studies

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Class 9 (02/07/2018): Syndrome (continued) and Diagnosis

Class slides


Syndrome: Changes in the earth system are accelerating over the last 200 years and particularly since the 1950ties. Propelled by the availability of easily accessible and seemingly infinite energy particularly in form of oil, humanity has reengineered the surface of the planet and modified major mass cycles by several orders of magnitude. Based on technological innovations, new constituents are introduced in the earth system with unforeseen consequences. The increased cycling of mass is leading to high levels of polution. As a result, biodiversity is rapidly reduced, extinction rates are accelerating, the dynamics of the coupled atmosphere-ocean-solid Earth system are transitioning to a high energy state, and climate is changing. Many positive feedback mechanisms are triggered and these are further accelearting the changes.

Diagnosis: Attempting a diagnosis of what is currently taking place, it becomes clear that climate change and sea level rise are symptoms of the underlying global change. The crossing of global boundaries of the safe operating space for humanity is putting the system on a rapid transition to a new state unknow to humanity. At the core of the changes is the economic model introduced in the 18th century, which has the sole purpose of creating human wealth without regard for the non-human wealth degraded or eliminate on the way to more human wealth.

Reading List

Griggs et al., 2013.

World Watch Institute, 2013.

Look at the Sustainable Development Goals: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs.

UNRISD, 2016.

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