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Wednesday, August 5 • 17:30 - 18:00
Understanding Mechanisms of the Anthropocene – Systems Science Should Meet Social Ecology !

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Aiming to govern the anthropocene (Crutzen 2002) implicates to refer to an appropriate model of our global socio-ecological system (briefly: human ecosystem), that might be similar to the famous “world models” (Meadows et al. 2004). Usually, policies assume that the subsystems  nature (soil, water, air; plants animals), economy and society are deterministic machines where any system-specific input (pesticides / taxes/ law etc.) evokes a certain intended operation mode or output (e.g. “sustainability”) without considering side effects and feedbacks. In this context, any steering intervention is guided only by easily available quantitative indicators that are supposed to represent the function state of the respective system validly (comp. “big data” hype). Additionally, it is commonly believed that deterministically operating and (growing) economy is also the determining driver of human ecosystems: “If we ‘kick-start’ the economy everything changes for the better!”  In contrast, self-conditioned dynamics seems to be significant for operations of each of these systems. Therefore, understanding the interconnected but buffered dynamics between the subsystems nature, economy and society needs  the proper identification of major players in the respective and coupled systems dynamics. This knowledge must also encompass boundary conditions of the systems in order to reduce climate change and /or  keep biodiversity effectively (comp. Rockström 2009). Maybe, only with this knowledge it is effective/efficient to design and apply causally oriented intervention strategies.

However, already at the stage of modeling of regional human ecosystems, still epistemic deficiencies de-validate some usual models: theory-free collecting obtainable data across several domains (temperature, % land use, biomass & energy consumption /capita,  population size/density, DGP, Gini-coefficient etc.) and then building formal models for computer simulations without referring to theories of the respective academic disciplines   (geography, sociology, economy   etc.)  seems to be too pragmatic even if modeling methodologies of systems science are used systematically. In this context, it has to be admitted that there are not enough interdisciplinary (or better: “interfacultary”) conceptual frameworks that allow an integrated view on the world and that connect views of ecology, economy and social science. One option is the academic field of social ecology (or human ecology) that studies the  interrelations between population (or: men), society and “environment” (Hawley, Duncan,  Odum; comp. Glaser 1989, Serbser 2004) or the “societal metabolism” (Schaffarzik et al. 2014). Interestingly, the level of development of quantitative theories and models  in social ecology is  rather low (Tretter & Halliday 2012). Additionally, the methodological gap between natural and social sciences  should be minded more (Simon & Tretter 2015).

In the talk, referring to case studies several of such methodological issues are raised that might help to proceed towards a more sophisticated and epistemologically sound theoretical modeling of socio-ecological systems as a basis of ecosystems management.

Presenter / Artist
avatar for Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. Felix Tretter

Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. Felix Tretter

Fellow, Bertalanffy Centre for the Studies of Systems Sciences (BCSSS)
SIG Co-Chair: Socio-Ecological Systems (see below for details)This SIG Socio-Ecological Systems intends to help advance a sound epistemology and methodology for socio-ecological systems design in conjunction with socio-technological systems design. At the interface of science... Read More →

Wednesday August 5, 2015 17:30 - 18:00 CEST
Elk Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

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