• Using the Planet


    Even before the advent of agriculture, Homo sapiens kicked off an entirely new process of planetary change. Earth would never be the same. Instead of mere centuries, Erle C Ellis advances a broader view of the Anthropocene, over many millennia, and what that means for land stewardship.
  • Lessons from a simulated civilisation


    The rise and fall of the ancient Maya has
    intrigued historians and archaeologists for decades. Now, Earth-system scientists are taking a keen interest. Scott Heckbert asks: what role might environmental conditions and trade play in the growth and eventual collapse of a civilisation?

Published: December 20, 2012

2012: A year in review

News |
From Planet Under Pressure to Rio+20 and Future Earth, 2012 has been an eventful year. Here are some of the highlights and key events.
New Chair, James Syvitski, joined IGBP

In January 2012, James Syvitski became Chair of IGBP. He follows Brazilian academic Carlos Nobre who served for two terms as IGBP Chair. Professor Syvitski is director of the Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System at the University of Colarado, Boulder.

Ocean acidification rates unprecedented

In March, researchers reported in the journal Science that the oceans may be acidifying faster today than in the last 300 million years. The results were based on a workshop held by IGBP's Past Global Changes programme. More.

Changing chemistry of the Earth's oceans (New York Times, 9 March 2012)

Planet Under Pressure

The Planet Under Pressure conference, co-sponsored by IGBP, attracted 3000 world-leading experts and marked a turning point in Earth-system research.

The greatest challenge of our species - Thomas Lovejoy (New York Times)
Earth-system science at the crossroads - Mike Raupach (Global Change Magazine)
State of the Planet Declaration - Lidia Brito, Mark Stafford Smith (pdf. Planet Under Pressure)

Elinor Ostrom died, 78

The political scientist and Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom died in June 2012 at the age of 78. Ostrom's research on managing common resources challenged established wisdom about the so-called “tragedy of the commons" and led to her Nobel award in 2009. She was the first woman to receive the economics honour. Ostrom acted as chief scientific advisor to the Planet Under Pressure conference and is dearly missed. More.

Elinor Ostrom (1933-2012)
Rio+20

The UN's largest gathering to date, the Rio+20 summit, attracted an estimated 50,000 people and 188 heads of state and minsters. The event began with a short speech by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon who then introduced the IGBP co-produced short film, Welcome to the Anthropocene, placing IGBP science front and central at the summit.

UNsustainable - Carlos Nobre (Science)
Analyzing Sustainable Development Goals - Lidia Brito (Science)
Green from the Grassroots - Elinor Ostrom (Project Syndicate)
A Rio retrospective - Owen Gaffney (Global Change)


Welcome to the Anthropocene

IGBP and partners (CSIRO, Globaia, Stockholm Resilience Centre) launched the world's first educational website on the Anthropocene. The site, which features a short film of the Anthropocene, has received considerable media attention, appearing in the New York Times, BBC, Gizmodo, Fast Company, the Atlantic and Time. www.anthropocene.info

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Atmospheric chemistry in the Anthropocene

In September 2012, IGBP's International Global Atmospheric Chemistry project and WMO published a major synthesis on the "Impacts of megacities on air pollution and climate" during IGAC's international open science conference in Beijing. More information: Megacities report and Open science conference (Atmospheric Chemistry in the Anthropocene).

Ocean acidification conference attracts record numbers

Monterey, California hosted the 3rd Ocean in a High-CO2 World symposium, co-sponsored by IGBP. The symposium attracted 540 delegates from 37 countries including over 30 journalists. The high-level policy day was led by NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco and co-sponsored by Google. IGBP, Google and IUCN produced a short Google Tour of ocean acidification for Google Earth. Conference website.

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Future Earth

2012 marked significant progress towards Future Earth, the new ten-year research initiative set to bring together the major international global environmental change programmes, including IGBP. The Planet Under Pressure conference generated significant momentum within the research community for the initiative. Future Earth was formally launched at the UN's Rio+20 Summit. 2013 promises to be be an exciting year as Future Earth takes shape. Catch interviews with the Future Earth transition team, including IGBP director, Sybil Seitzinger.

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Sustainable cities must look beyond city limits

City authorities need to start thinking beyond city limits if they want to be serious about creating genuinely sustainable cities. This is a key conclusions from the IGBP-sponsored workshop on planetary stewardship held at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (June 2011). A paper arising from the workshop made the front cover of the December 2012 issue of Ambio.

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