Social Ecology in the Digital Age: 7 - Managing Global Environmental Change

Elsevier, Social Ecology in the Digital Age, Solving Complex Problems in a Globalized World, 2018, Pages 223-264
Daniel Stokols

This chapter confronts what many scientists and policymakers regard as our gravest existential threats today—global climate change and its impacts on groundwater and food supplies, sea level rise and coastal flooding, ocean acidification extreme weather events, biodiversity loss, violent conflict over scarce resources, and disease pandemics. The rapidity of these events has heightened public awareness of humans' and other species' vulnerability to planetary environmental change. These global challenges are linked not only to physical and chemical processes (e.g., global temperature rise from greenhouse gasses and the destruction of atmospheric ozone by chlorofluorocarbon emissions) but also individual and collective behavior including individuals' failure to curb residential energy and water use and their dependence on petroleum-based transit. The reversal of adverse planetary changes will require multipronged ecological strategies (e.g., international treaties, environmentally protective regulations and norms, technological innovations) implemented in a coordinated fashion at local, regional, and global scales.