, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 273-276,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 06 Oct 2010


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In recent years, we have witnessed a profound transformation of the discourse on environmental protection, moving from an earlier conceptualization of the environment as the localized surroundings of humans to a much broader notion of changing and interlinked global biogeophysical systems. Paul Crutzen has coined here the neologism “anthropocene”, which he describes as a new era in planetary history defined by the dominant influence of one species (Crutzen and Stoermer 2000). Rockström et al. (2009) suggested in this context nine “planetary boundaries” that limit the overall development space of humanity. One alarming message of this group of authors is that several planetary boundaries are being violated by human action already.

This anthropogenic transformation of the earth system is in essence a crisis of societal governance. Current systems of governance, at all levels of decision-making, are ineffective and insufficient. Yet from a social science perspective, it is apparent that th ...