Featured Video, 3 December 2012

- 24 October 2012 Jacqueline McGlade, Moderator


Session 1: Global Transformations Understanding the World We Live in and its Possible Futures

Moderator: Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director, European Environment Agency (EEA)

Transformative changes are more than just marginal deviations from "business as usual". They include phases of radical change and sometimes turbulence, interlaced with phases of development and decline as we move toward new configurations. Moreover systems are not changing in isolation, but are interfering with each other resulting in ever more complex patterns. For population dynamics in natural systems or human societies such patterns can be described just as in technological systems, e.g., of the substitution of one technology for another. Sometimes dynamics of land-cover change as well as revolutions in political systems follow such behavior.

The industrial revolution catapulted humanity to unprecedented but uneven levels of affluence and amplified the reach of human activities to such an extent that it was proposed to name the present geologic epoch the "Anthropocene", to highlight the enormous, unintended impact that our actions have inflicted at a global and geologically significant level. Examples include modifications of the global nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, biodiversity loss, amplified greenhouse gas concentrations, stratospheric ozone depletion, ocean acidification, overexploitation of global freshwater, changes in land use (deforestation, desertification, soil loss etc.), atmospheric aerosol loading, and chemical pollution. 

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