The war with nature is over and we’ve won!

What happens when humans finally win the war with nature and end up in charge of ecology? A question for the future? Think again. In “Peak Wood: Nature Does Impose Limits”, John Perlin describes what happens when human societies, starting in prehistory, have completely transformed their ecosystems and ultimately themselves, by clearing away forests to improve hunting and gathering, for […]

Used biosphere for sale (looks good on paper)

Looking for a new view of an old biosphere? Now, you can buy a wall-sized version of our first Anthropogenic Biomes map over at Maps.com. The map includes pictures of different anthromes and is based on the paper “Putting people in the map: Anthropogenic Biomes of the World”. Excellent for classroom use or anywhere else people ponder the planet. (Full […]

Getting in touch with your human ecosystem

Do you feel uneasy? Maybe your local ecosystem has taken a turn for the worse. According to ecopsycology, we humans suffer profound discomfort when our habitat feels like it is being degraded. As discussed in an article in this week’s NY times magazine. Ecopsychology proposes that “an imperiled environment creates an imperiled mind”, and an imperiled planet can have the same […]

The remotest place on Earth

People are everywhere these days, but if you really want to “get away from it all”, the remotest place on Earth, aside from Antarctica, turns out to be Tibet. This from a New Scientist article (and related blog post) that explores travel times in the global accessibility map we discussed in a blog post last year. The “remotest point on […]

China’s villages are changing the world

If you still think of rural China as remote, traditional, and unchanged for millennia, think again. China’s ancient village landscapes are among the most dynamic and densely populated on Earth, with a global extent more than twice that all of Earth’s cities combined (2.5 million km2 vs. ~1 million km2). It should therefore come as no surprise that long-term changes […]

Carbonware: Googling forests, Windows on your carbon

With carbon, climate and COP 15 in the news, Google and Microsoft are now battling over carbon mindshare, introducing the latest web-based “Carbonware” designed to help combat carbon emissions and global warming. These add to a growing list that includes the many “carbon footprint calculators” designed to enlighten us on our carbon emissions and the activities we undertake that cause […]

Inconvenient food for thought

“How do we feed a growing world without destroying the planet?” asks Jon Foley’s new 3 minute video (see below). It’s a great question. To get enough food for our existing billions, we already use about 40% of Earth’s ice-free land to produce crops and livestock. And we are using this land more intensively all the time, using up more […]

On Doctoring the Planet

Our planet is heating up in a hurry! Call in the Earth doctors! Let’s fix the planet! Now that we’ve pushed Earth systems out of the comfort zone, Earth and environmental scientists are increasingly being called on to address the big questions that affect all of us, like “How can we keep the planet habitable for humans?”. While the simple […]

China is burning (carbon) for you

Do not ask for whom China’s carbon burns, it burns for you! A new article in press at Energy Policy by Lin and Sun assesses the extent of carbon emitted to the atmosphere in China because of exports produced for consumption by other nations. While the exact contributions by exports are complex, and depend on economic sectors, as much as […]

Tools for the Carbon Economy

By Jonathan Dandois Will the census of the future ask homeowners how many trees they have on their property? With humanity now faced with a changing climate under even the most stringent efforts to reduce carbon emissions, carbon accounting has become a hot topic for scientists, politicians and economists. While carbon accounting at the scale of individual households and their […]