Bringing together a body of interdisciplinary research across archaeology, ecology, anthropology, and evolutionary theory, Arlie Ellis, professor of geography and environmental systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, is enabling societies to develop unprecedented capabilities. Describe the evolution of cultural practices. It is about expanding and transforming the ecosystems that sustain them.
From the use of fire to cook food and manage vegetation, to the technologies and institutions that support intensive agriculture, increasingly urbanized societies, and global supply chains that span the globe, human society , reshaping the Earth and growing in the process.
Ellis is a leading scientist studying the Anthropocene, the current geological epoch defined by humans’ transformation of the Earth. He is the founder and director of the Institute of Human Ecology, which aims to make the relationship between human societies and ecosystems more sustainable, from local to planetary scales. researching relationships. He is currently a visiting fellow at his Martin School in Oxford and has recently published his research on the opportunities of the Anthropocene.
Towards a better future
Although human society has gained an unprecedented ability to improve the quality and longevity of human life, Ellis believes that the unintended consequences of these advances are generally negative for the rest of life on Earth, from climate change. It shows that. seed Extinction and increasing pollution. These devastating environmental challenges of the Anthropocene require action if there is to be a better future for both people and the rest of nature.
But as Ellis shows, portraying the Anthropocene as an environmental crisis ignores the most important message of the Anthropocene. When people work together, they can certainly change the world for the better. The urgency of current global environmental challenges does not mean that stories about environmental crisis, limitations, and collapse are more effective in uniting people to shape a better future. For efforts to shape a better future in the long term to be successful, these efforts must harness the unprecedented social capacity of human societies and strengthen their application through broadly shared human aspirations.
Connection between people and nature
Ellis assesses the limits of the natural sciences to successfully predict and manage the unprecedented transformations in society, environment, and interactions that exemplify the Anthropocene situation. Rather, the capacities that have always enabled human societies to survive and even thrive under difficult environmental conditions are social and cultural, enabling cooperative efforts in support of the common good. It is built on the institutions, practices, and stories that make it so. And if there is to be a better future for the rest of nature, these social and cultural capacities must be extended to life beyond human society.
“Reemphasizing the kinship between all living things – our common evolutionary ancestry – is the starting point, from remote sensing to webcams, nature apps, community reserves, corridor networks and ecotourism.” Ellis says. “Aspirations for a better future also require reconciling the past through the restoration of indigenous and traditional sovereignty over lands and waters.”
Ellis emphasizes that society’s ability to shape a future far better than the one we are currently creating has existed for decades. The key to putting them into practice is that these capabilities not only exist, but that these capabilities not only exist, but are driven by the unprecedented global force of humanity’s shared desire to live in a better world. It is about motivating implementation by increasing public awareness that it can be successfully implemented.
References: Erle C. Ellis, “The Anthropocene Situation: Evolving Through Social-Ecological Transformation,” January 1, 2024; Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.