Research highlight

Engaging the human process in earth science

Sustainability science research suggests that what elevates environmental problems from difficult to seemingly intractable is the role and behaviour of humans, at scales from individual to institutional.

02/06/2018 By BGS Press
Beach plastics
Plastic bottles on a beach. How does this make you feel?

In a recent article in Research Features (issue 125, 2018), I provided a perspective on engaging the human process in earth science. This reflects a long-lived interest, on my part and others’ across the BGS, in the need to engage earth science (particularly earth-surface sciences) in the development of solutions to so-called ‘wicked’ environmental problems.

If you are interested in learning more about the content of the Research Features article, please see the reference list; I’m also happy to send PDFs on papers that are open access. Send a request to Mike Ellis.

There are a couple of concurrent activities that you might be interested in. The first is a special session at the annual Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in December 2018, on the human process in Earth’s future. We are examining the human process in the context of wicked environmental problems.

Sustainability science research suggests that what elevates environmental problems from difficult to seemingly intractable is the role and behaviour of humans, at scales from individual to institutional. Our understanding of the human process within the earth science community, however, is largely cloaked in the disciplines of environmental and global-change science. Complementary analyses of the human process, particularly from a behavioural perspective, are available in the disciplines of sociology, social sciences, behavioural economics, psychology, marketing, business, land-use planning, environmental history, deep geography, and others.

Secondly, we are running workshop (funded by the British Council and the Newton Fund) in Hanoi on cascading coupled human-natural hazards. The human process is critical to understanding how natural hazards and possible disasters cascade through a rural-urban environment.

English countryside
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The English countryside, made largely by humans.

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These are some other relevant and interesting articles that in one way or another address the role of humans in earth sciences. The papers that are connected to the article in Research Features are highlighted in bold text.

 

See the article in Research Features for more.

Contact

Contact Mike Ellis for more information.

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