The human species has been living on planet Earth for quite some time now. But oddly enough we have not always been a part of the Earth System. Up until the 1980s, systems scientists didn’t consider humans as an intrinsic factor in planetary regulation. When did this change? And why?
Is Earth a Closed Ecosystem?
Starting with the insights derived from NASA’s iconic Earthrise photograph, and pondering over his own career as an environmental systems analysist, Rik Leemans sheds light on some of the most important changes in the field that is now known as Earth System science.
Can we understand the Earth as a closed ecosystem? And how do evolutionary processes influence this utterly complex and interactive system? Buckle up!
About series ‘Biodomes and Spomes. What Do Closed Ecosystems Teach Us About Life on Earth?’
Imagine inhabiting a massive mason jar; substantially closed with respect to matter, but open to energy. What are the preconditions for life to thrive within such a closed ecosystem for an indefinite amount of time? And what role do we play in regulating these systems from both the outside and inside? Fasten your seatbelts, for in this series we travel through biodomes and spomes to unravel what closed ecosystems teach us about life within the largest known space home – planet Earth.
About Rik Leemans
Rik Leemans is Professor of Environmental Systems Analysis, with a strong focus on the resilience, vulnerability, and sustainability of ecosystems. Before he became the head of the ESA group – and after he abandoned his short career as a photographer – Rik studied the successional dynamics, structure, and models of boreal forests. He directed the development of the IMAGE-2 global climate change model, and has actively participated in the UN-Panels on Climate Change (IPCC) and biodiversity (IPBES). Within the Earth System sciences he is feared as much as he is celebrated for his fierce critique of the Bretherton model for climate and biospheric cycles, where humans are only an external factor. He put people into these models.
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