Much of the work on abrupt emergent properties is hypothetical and that on human responses captured in (pre)historical interpretations, before the human-environment conditions of the Anthropocene. The challenge is gleaning the lessons about societal responses to projected and “surprise” abrupt changes in the Anthropocene.

Key Questions

•   What are the types of projected abrupt change for which society has demonstrated a willingness to prepare?

• What characteristics of changes in ecosystem services and societal coping mechanisms make human populations more robust and resilient, and less vulnerable to abrupt change?

Reading

Alley RB, Marotzke J, Nordhaus WD, Overpeck JT, Peteet DM, Pielke Jr. RA, Pierreumbert RT, Rhines PB, Stocker TF, Talley LD, and Wallace JM. Abrupt climate change. Science 2003;299:2005-2010.

Cook BJ, Miller RL, and Seager R. Amplification of the North American “Dust Bowl” drought through human-induced degradation. Proc Natl Acad Sci 2009;106:4997-5001.

Dillehay TD and Kolata AL. Long-term human response to uncertain environmental conditions in the Andes. Proc Nat Acad Sci 2004;101(12):4325-4330.

Lenton TM, Held H, Kriegler E, Hall JW, Lucht W, Rahmstorf S, and Joachim Schellnhuber H. Tipping elements in the Earth’s climate system. Proc Natl Acad Sci 2008;105:1786-1793.

Stafford Smith MD, McKeon GM, Watson LW, Henry BK, Stone GS, Hall WB, and Howden SM. Learning from episodes of degradation and recovery in variable Australian rangelands. Proc Nat Acad Sci 2007;104(52):20609-95.

IDR TEAM MEMBERS

•   Wai Kin (Victor) Chan, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

•   George Hornberger, Vanderbilt University

•   Jane Carter Ingram, Wildlife Conservation Society

•   Louise E. Jackson, University of California, Davis

•   Gregory M. Masters, University of Maryland

•   Katrina Mullan, University of California, Berkeley

•   Shahid Naeem, Columbia University in the City of New York

•   Jennifer K. O’Leary, OneReef

•   Jennie C. Stephens, Clark University



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