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Thursday, August 6 • 16:00 - 16:30
Interdisciplinary Co-Operation and System Modelling as Means to Govern the Anthropocene

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Whether or not human beings act a geological force, it is obvious there are numerous of environmental problems that arise from geosphere-anthroposphere interaction which need to be treated in the future. Furthermore the governance of the partly adjacent cultural changes is due to dimensions a challenge of global proportion not seen earlier in the history of the earth. Humans do not only possess the power to destroy, but also to restore ecosystems of the earth. Solutions to the ozone depletion by technical developments of new fluids has been found. Acidification of Swedish low buffer soils and lakes, sensitive to acid rain, has decreased due to concerted action on Sulphur emission control in large parts of Europe. The standing biomass of Swedish forests has doubled in 100 years. The handling and recycling of solid waste has resulted in a considerable reduction of deposits in large parts of the world. There are many examples humans have been able to solve environmental problems when everybody agrees action is needed, and this is encouraging.

This paper argues that advanced systems analysis and modelling of environmental systems is one of the most efficient ways to establish a knowledge base for governing the societies towards sustainability. In the 1960 many observations and data made it evident that the environment in most countries was in a bad state. To get a holistic view of the complex problems and to clarify the relationships of structure and function, systems thinking was applied e.g. modelling, cybernetics, systems analysis, Life Cycle Assessment and energy and material flow analysis. These tools, collectively often named integrated assessment, help to communicate fundamental knowledge and support decision-making when identifying solutions. This basically natural scientific knowledge has also influenced the development within e.g. economy and jurisprudence and today ecological economy and environmental law assume ecological systems as fundamental.

The complexity of ecosystems and environmental issues can be understood by advanced scientific tools as modelling as a base for interdisciplinary co-operation. Each part of such models will of course be an approximation, but validation and verification of the models will make them useful. An ongoing research project at Mid Sweden University aims at building a complete carbon and energy balance model of the Swedish region Jämtland, based upon the Danish Samsø-model. The model will be part of the decision base for the county administration of Jämtland how to find ways to reach sustainability. Such models will make it possible to refer to a robust scientific base, thereby making it easier to argue for appropriate measures and actions. At the same time it will be clear what data these actions rest upon thereby making it easier to identify possible errors or limitations. A model of the energy production sector of the region shows governance complexity taking aspects of electricity production and export into consideration. 

By applying structured scientific knowledge built into models of systems, in-depth knowledge can be developed, thus learning more about the real boundaries. From these boundaries, limit values and recommendations can be set and communicated to gain social understanding. Applying system’s thinking seems to be a most creative way to govern the era of conscious environmental awakening – the Anthropocene or whatever it is.

Presenter / Artist

Torbjörn Skytt

Mid Sweden University
ISSS Two Day

Thursday August 6, 2015 16:00 - 16:30 CEST
Copenhagen 2 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

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