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To live within Earth's limits: An Australian plan to develop a science of the whole earth system

Citation

Gifford, RM and Steffen, W and Finnigan, JJ and Lynch, A and van Ommen, TD and Karoly, D and Manton, M and Mapstone, B and McDougall, T and Pitman, A and Smith, N and Wijffels, S, To live within Earth's limits: An Australian plan to develop a science of the whole earth system, To live within Earth's limits: An Australian plan to develop a science of the whole earth system, Australian Academy of Science, Canberra, Australia, pp. 1-108. (2010) [Government or Industry Research]

Abstract

This precious and beautiful blue planet on which we live is complex beyond measure, so complex, we argue here, that a whole new science – an integrative science of the Earth system (Earth System Science or ESS) – is needed to understand it. There is an imperative to predict its potential future states, particularly those influenced by human impacts on the atmosphere, oceans, land, and biosphere. The Earth is now entering an epoch that has been called the "Anthropocene", a time in which humans are profoundly changing the environment, even the stratigraphy, of the planet. Rising carbon dioxide levels and associated global warming is the iconic example of humaninduced global change, but climate change is only the most prominent of a series of changes to the Earth that are ultimately driven by exponential growth in the world’s population. These changes involve so many interconnecting factors that how they will unfold in the future is far from clear. We believe that ESS, as a body of fundamentally interdisciplinary knowledge, offers the understanding necessary to move us towards a sustainable occupation of the planet. Here we set out a systematic and coherent plan to create an Australian scientific enterprise – combining inputs from the natural and social sciences, economics, and the humanities – which is devoted to understanding the planet’s life support systems. Its primary aim will be to discover the Earth’s biophysical limits and how to live within them.

Item Details

Item Type:Government or Industry Research
Keywords:integrative science of the Earth system, atmosphere, oceans, land, biosphere
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Other Earth Sciences
Research Field:Earth Sciences not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding Knowledge in the Earth Sciences
Author:van Ommen, TD (Dr Tas van Ommen)
ID Code:73288
Year Published:2010
Deposited By:CRC-Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems
Deposited On:2011-09-23
Last Modified:2011-09-23
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