A tale of two planets: The Anthropocene revisited

Is the Anthropocene recent? Defined solely by the accelerating impacts of an industrial society that threatens the future of both humanity and the biosphere (Barnosky et al., 2012, Rockstrom et al., 2009)? A closer look at the history of human use of land yields a very different story. Today in PNAS, my colleagues and I present a new global history of […]

Saved! by Ester Boserup

Human populations grow until they overshoot their carrying capacity and collapse. Game over. Thank you Malthus! (1798; and Ehrlich 1968). Not so fast! There’s something wrong with this story: it almost never happens. Human populations do collapse – but not because of population growth itself; collapses are most commonly related to disease, climate change or societal failures (eg. Zhang et […]

Think like a farmer

by Nick Magliocca “Farming is hard work, so why do more of it?” That is what many early farmers were probably thinking when deciding between fuller bellies or keeping their long off-seasons of leisure time– at least from the perspective of Ester Boserup. Since its 1965 release, Ester Boserup’s seminal study The Conditions of Agricultural Growth has changed the way […]