[Vision2020] Plausible and desirable futures in the Anthropocene: A new research agenda

Ted Moffett starbliss at gmail.com
Mon Apr 19 18:25:18 PDT 2021

A bit of light reading for pondering humanity's future... Ha, ha...
Global Environmental Change, Volume 39
<https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/09593780/39/supp/C>, July
2016, Pages 351-362

Plausible and desirable futures in the Anthropocene: A new research agenda
- ScienceDirect


While the concept of the Anthropocene reflects the past and present nature,
scale and magnitude of human impacts on the Earth System, its true
significance lies in how it can be used to guide attitudes, choices,
policies and actions that influence the future. Yet, to date much of the
research on the Anthropocene has focused on interpreting past and present
changes, while saying little about the future. Likewise, many futures
studies have been insufficiently rooted in an understanding of past
changes, in particular the long-term co-evolution of bio-physical and human
systems. The Anthropocene perspective is one that encapsulates a world of
intertwined drivers, complex dynamic structures, emergent phenomena and
unintended consequences, manifest across different scales and within
interlinked biophysical constraints and social conditions. In this paper we
discuss the changing role of science and the theoretical, methodological
and analytical challenges in considering futures of the Anthropocene. We
present three broad groups of research questions on: (1) societal goals for
the future; (2) major trends and dynamics that might favor or hinder them;
(3) and factors that might propel or impede transformations towards
desirable futures. Tackling these questions requires the development of
novel approaches integrating natural and social sciences as well as the
humanities beyond what is current today. We present three examples, one
from each group of questions, illustrating how science might contribute to
the identification of desirable and plausible futures and pave the way for
transformations towards them. We argue that it is time for debates on the
sustainability of the Anthropocene to focus on opportunities for realizing
desirable and plausible futures.
Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett
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