The Anthropocene:Where on Earth are We Going?        Will Steffen
Photos: Tas van Ommen, Australian Antarctic Division
Human Development and            Earth System Dynamics                                                                    ...
Human Development and             Earth System Dynamics                                        Holocene  First migration o...
Fires, Floods and Cyclones:        A window into the future        in the Anthropocene?
Human Imprint on Marine EcosystemsGlobally 74-78% of allfish stocks are fullyexploited, over-exploited,depleted or are rec...
Human Imprint on the Terrestrial Biosphere                        From landscapes to                        genes…
Global Change and the Anthropocene
Anthropocene graphsVertical axis is ahuman activity or animpact on the Earth                                            !!...
The Human Enterprise•    Population•    Economic Growth•    Freshwater use•    Resource consumption-     fertilizer, paper...
The Global Impact•   Greenhouse gases•   Ozone depletion•   Climate•   Marine ecosystems•   Coastal zone•   Nitrogen cycle...
Visualising the Great Acceleration                  I=PxAxT                                  I - impact                   ...
The dilemma of the AnthropoceneGlobal Impact                Human well-being                                   Source: Mor...
The 21st Century:A bright future of continued growth? Or… …saililng towards a global collapse?
Lessons from the Past
Ø111#14                                     Ø111#15                                         Ø1a                           ...
The Roman Empire:                       Resilience and Constraints                                Lower Rhone Valley      ...
North American Societies:                                       Resilience, Transformation                                ...
Possible Explanations for the          Collapse of Early Civilisations• Tainter - increasing complexity & decreasing resil...
On the techno-scientific approach to progress “…if we focus on other features of the past than humanity’s progress, we mig...
The Anthropocene in the 21st century:                 The 2000-2010 Decade• China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia ...
Biodiversity in the 21st century• Humans have increased the  species extinction rate by as  much as 1,000 times over  back...
Peak Oil           Sorrell et al. 2009
Oil and food price trends, 1999 - 2011               World Bank Commodity Price Data                                   FAO...
Analysis of the Global Food Crisis:         A Systems PerspectiveGlobal-scale linkage of processes producing shocksthat em...
The AnthropoceneA Systems Perspective
The Earth as a Complex System Glacial state     Interglacial (warm) state                 Sources: Petit et al. 1999; Sche...
The Earth as a Complex System                Limit CyclesCO2TemperatureCH4                     Sources: Petit et al. 1999;...
Temperature rise:Beyond the envelope of natural variability?      Northern hemisphere surface temperature                 ...
Implications of accelerating climate change  IPCC temperature projections                                         IPCC 2007
6                    Earth System moves to a new                IPCC Projections                    state? Severe challeng...
Implications of the Anthropocene                    Transition to a new, much                        hotter state of the  ...
Planetary Boundaries                 Rockström et al. 2009
Biogeochemistry:          Ozone   Global N & P           depletion                                          Atmospheric   ...
Defining the safe operating space                              Rockström et al. 2009
Evolution and the Anthropocene                              Darwin’s insights about the origin of                         ...
Perspectives on        the     Human-   Environment   RelationshipHurt not the earth, neither the sea,nor the trees.Revela...
Most Gracious is Allah, Who reveals HimselfIn the Quran, in mans IntelligenceAnd in the nature around man.Balance and Just...
Without the willow, how to know the beauty of the wind.                               Lao She, Buddhist monk
Were only here for a short amount of time to do what wevebeen put here to do, which is to look after the country.Were only...
The Anthropocene…          Sebastião Salgado…where on Earth are we going?
Ws talk anthropocene_project
Ws talk anthropocene_project
Ws talk anthropocene_project
Ws talk anthropocene_project
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Ws talk anthropocene_project

  1. 1. The Anthropocene:Where on Earth are We Going? Will Steffen
  2. 2. Photos: Tas van Ommen, Australian Antarctic Division
  3. 3. Human Development and Earth System Dynamics Beginning of agricultureEvolution of fully modern Hunter-gatherer societies only humans in Africa Adapted from Steffen et al. 2004; ice core data from Petit et al. 1999
  4. 4. Human Development and Earth System Dynamics Holocene First migration of Aborigines Migrations from Beginning Great Asian,fully modern humans arrive in South Asia of European, African, out of Africa Australia to Europe agriculture American civilisations Source: GRIP ice core data (Greenland) and S. Oppenheimer, ”Out of Eden”, 2004
  5. 5. Fires, Floods and Cyclones: A window into the future in the Anthropocene?
  6. 6. Human Imprint on Marine EcosystemsGlobally 74-78% of allfish stocks are fullyexploited, over-exploited,depleted or are recoveringfrom depletion Atlantic cod fishery Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005, Steffen et al. 2004
  7. 7. Human Imprint on the Terrestrial Biosphere From landscapes to genes…
  8. 8. Global Change and the Anthropocene
  9. 9. Anthropocene graphsVertical axis is ahuman activity or animpact on the Earth !!!!System. All variablesshown in a linearscale. Steffen et al. 2004
  10. 10. The Human Enterprise• Population• Economic Growth• Freshwater use• Resource consumption- fertilizer, paper• Urbanization• Globalization• Transport• Communication Note ”The Great Acceleration” from 1950 to 2000 From Steffen et al. 2004
  11. 11. The Global Impact• Greenhouse gases• Ozone depletion• Climate• Marine ecosystems• Coastal zone• Nitrogen cycle• Tropical forests• Land systems• Biodiversity From: Steffen et al. 2004
  12. 12. Visualising the Great Acceleration I=PxAxT I - impact P - population A - affluence T - technologyNational Geographic, March 2011 Holdren and Ehrlich 1974; National Geographic 2012
  13. 13. The dilemma of the AnthropoceneGlobal Impact Human well-being Source: Moran et al., Ecological Economics, 64, 470-474, 2008
  14. 14. The 21st Century:A bright future of continued growth? Or… …saililng towards a global collapse?
  15. 15. Lessons from the Past
  16. 16. Ø111#14 Ø111#15 Ø1a Ø111#13 V51#2 Ø149#7 V7K-4120 Ø149#10 V7#174 Ø66#23 V51#4 V51#254 Ø149#8 Ø149#213 Jette Arneborg Ø149#9 Ø23a Ø111#207 Ø111#206 Ø23b Arch dates Ø1bThe Greenland Norse V51#6 Ø149#215 V51#5 V51#3 V51#247 V51#184 AU III - c. 1300 - 1450 V51#255 V51#249 Ø149#228 Ø149#227 Ø149#226 Ø149#224 Ø149#222 Ø149#221 Ø149#220 Ø23a AU II - c. 1160 - 1300 All samples V7K-4117 V51#256 V51#250 Ø66#24 V51#1 V51#253 Ø47#21 Ø111#210 Ø111#208 V51#258 AU I - c. 980 - 1160 Ø149#216 Ø149#214 Ø111#205 Ø167 Ø47#22 Ø47#20 V7#175 Ø35a Tj#19 Tj#26 Tj#27 Tj#16 Tj#25 Ø48b Tj#12 V51#240 Year V51#197 Ø48a AD Ø35b Ø35c Tj#11 Ø35a Tj#28 Tj#18
  17. 17. The Roman Empire: Resilience and Constraints Lower Rhone Valley 1000 BC - 1000 AD Roman Settlement PatternsSander van der Leeuw
  18. 18. North American Societies: Resilience, Transformation and Collapse Droughts 25th percentile threshold Droughts 10th percentile threshold 1000 1025 1050 1075 1100 1125 1150 1175 1200 1225 1250 1275 1300 1325 1350 1375 1400 1425 1450 1475 1500 Reorganizati Re- Regional on from aggrega depopulation large tion villages to dispersed hamletsMichelle Hegmon Dennis Ho
  19. 19. Possible Explanations for the Collapse of Early Civilisations• Tainter - increasing complexity & decreasing resilience• Friedman - waves of ’globalisation’ to an upper limit of system compatibility• Diamond - inflexibility of core societal values
  20. 20. On the techno-scientific approach to progress “…if we focus on other features of the past than humanity’s progress, we might find a human history marked by crises, regime shifts, disasters, and constantly changing patterns of adjustment to limits and confines. Indeed, this now emerges as a new historical meta- narrative, linking humanity’s creative past with its destructive consequences and nature-culture interplay…” Sverker Sörlin & Paul Warde 2007
  21. 21. The Anthropocene in the 21st century: The 2000-2010 Decade• China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia and others are beginning their Great Acceleration.• The world is reaching hyper-connectivity - the global financial crisis• We are reaching several “peaks” – oil, phosphorus, health?• Humans have constructed an artificial chromosome and inserted it into DNA; towards synthesis of life itself Steffen et al. 2011
  22. 22. Biodiversity in the 21st century• Humans have increased the species extinction rate by as much as 1,000 times over background rates typical over Extinction Rate the planet’s history.• 10–30% of mammal, bird, and amphibian species are currently Distant Recent Future threatened with extinction. Past Past Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005
  23. 23. Peak Oil Sorrell et al. 2009
  24. 24. Oil and food price trends, 1999 - 2011 World Bank Commodity Price Data FAO Food Price Index
  25. 25. Analysis of the Global Food Crisis: A Systems PerspectiveGlobal-scale linkage of processes producing shocksthat emerge simultaneously, spread rapidly and interact.The ingredients for a cascading crisis?• Powerful global scale drivers (oil price spike)• Propagation of shocks through increased global connectivity• Knock-on effects of management responses elsewhere Biggs et al. 2010
  26. 26. The AnthropoceneA Systems Perspective
  27. 27. The Earth as a Complex System Glacial state Interglacial (warm) state Sources: Petit et al. 1999; Scheffer 2009
  28. 28. The Earth as a Complex System Limit CyclesCO2TemperatureCH4 Sources: Petit et al. 1999; Scheffer 2009
  29. 29. Temperature rise:Beyond the envelope of natural variability? Northern hemisphere surface temperature Post-industrial temperature rise Mann et al. 2003 (EOS)
  30. 30. Implications of accelerating climate change IPCC temperature projections IPCC 2007
  31. 31. 6 Earth System moves to a new IPCC Projections state? Severe challenge to 5 2100 AD contemporary civilisation. Possible collapse? Temperature (°C) 4 Global 3 2Temperature 1 1 Now N.H. (°C) 0.5 0 0 -0.5 200 600 1000 1400 1800 2000 IGBP PAGES
  32. 32. Implications of the Anthropocene Transition to a new, much hotter state of the Earth System?Tipping Point? Return towards a Holocene-like state?
  33. 33. Planetary Boundaries Rockström et al. 2009
  34. 34. Biogeochemistry: Ozone Global N & P depletion Atmospheric Cycles Aerosol LoadingClimateChange Planetary Chemical Pollution Boundaries Rate of GlobalBiodiversity Freshwater Loss Use Land System Ocean Change acidification Rockström et al. 2009
  35. 35. Defining the safe operating space Rockström et al. 2009
  36. 36. Evolution and the Anthropocene Darwin’s insights about the origin of humans - that we are apes, a part of nature (not above it) - challenged deeply held beliefs about the human- environment relationship.Will the Anthropocene evoke a similar level of deep emotionin the public? Can humanity really affect the functioning of its ownlife support system at the planetary scale? What are theimplications of this for our definition of “progress”, our way of lifeand our future? Source: Katherine Richardson, Copenhagen University
  37. 37. Perspectives on the Human- Environment RelationshipHurt not the earth, neither the sea,nor the trees.Revelation 7:3, the Holy Bible
  38. 38. Most Gracious is Allah, Who reveals HimselfIn the Quran, in mans IntelligenceAnd in the nature around man.Balance and Justice, Goodness and Care,Are the Laws of His Worlds.... Summary from Surah 55, the Holy Quran
  39. 39. Without the willow, how to know the beauty of the wind. Lao She, Buddhist monk
  40. 40. Were only here for a short amount of time to do what wevebeen put here to do, which is to look after the country.Were only a tool in the cycle of things. …(we) go out intothe world and help keep the balance of nature. Its a bigcycle of living with the land, and then eventually going backto it.... Vilma Webb, Noongar People, Australian Aborigines, from: Elders: Wisdom from Australias Indigenous Leaders’
  41. 41. The Anthropocene… Sebastião Salgado…where on Earth are we going?
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