The World System and the Earth System: Global Socioenviromental Change and Sustainability since the Neolithic 3000BC - AD 2000

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In this benchmark volume top scholars come together to present state-of-the-art research and pursue a more rigorous framework for understanding and studying the linkages between social and ecological systems. Contributors from a wide spectrum of disciplines, including archaeology, anthropology, geography, ecology, palaeo-science, geology, sociology, and history, present and assess both the evolution of our thinking and current, state-of-the-art theory and research. Covering ancient through modern periods, they discuss the complex ways in which human culture, economy, and demographics interact with ecology and climate change. The World System and the Earth System is critical reading for all scholars and students working at the interface of nature and society.Contributors: Thomas Abel, Björn Berglund, Chris Chase-Dunn, Alfred Crosby, Carole L. Crumley, John Dearing, Bert de Vries, Nina Eisenmenger, Andre Gunder Frank, Jonathan Friedman, Stefan Giljum, Thomas Hall, Karin Holmgren, Alf Hornborg, Kristian Kristiansen, Thomas Malm, Daniel Mandell, Betty Meggers, George Modelski, Emilio Moran, Helena Öberg, Frank Oldfield, Susan Stonich, William Thompson, Peter Turchin.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The volume must be read by anyone interested in the human-environmental connection. Spanning the local, social, and global, back into prehistory and onward to the future, it brings the weight of history and the wisdom of experience to bear on the problems that most threaten our future."

—Fakhry A. Assaad, Environmental Geology

"This is both an exciting and rewarding book. What unites the authors is their willingness to test the hypothesis that the biophysical earth systems and the historical social world systems ultimately form a single inseparable whole, whose mode of operation needs to be elucidated."
—Immanuel Wallerstein, Yale University

"The fruit of an unprecedented gathering of a veritable pageant of luminaries in the human and natural sciences, this book charts a new synthesis. It must be read by anyone interested in the human-environmental connection. Spanning the local, social, and global, back into prehistory and onward to the future, it is the approach we need at this time, when the challenges of global environmental problems cannot be met with the status quo. It brings the weight of history and the wisdom of experience to bear on the problems that most threaten our future."

—Richard Wilk, Indiana University

"The World System and the Earth System offers a critical perspective on large-scale environmental change in an era when we are awakening to the phenomenon of global warming. This work is notable for bringing together long-term environmental systems research with its social scientific equivalent, world-systems analysis, a novel and powerful synthesis."

—Josiah Heyman, University of Texas at El Paso

"This volume is a long overdue synthesis of our understanding of the human-environment relationship at the global scale. The study of socio-ecological systems at local scales is making progress in understanding the critical issues of resilience and sustainability. However, it is at the scale of the Earth as a whole where the collision between humans and environment is being played out in its most dramatic form, with the future of the planetary life support system in the balance. Learning from the rich record of socio-ecological change in the past is a strong feature of the volume, but its interest and value are not limited to this. In the present era where a rapidly globalising human enterprise has become a geophysical force impacting the functioning of the Earth System itself, it is impressive to see that this book takes on the ultimate question: 'Are World-Systems Sustainable?'"

—Will Steffen, Australian National University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781598741018
  • Publisher: Left Coast Press
  • Publication date: 11/30/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Alf Hornborg is an anthropologist and professor of human ecology at Lund University, Sweden. He has conducted field research in Peru, Nova Scotia, the Kingdom of Tonga, and Brazil, and his current research interest is the cultural and political dimensions of human-environmental relations in past and present societies, particularly from the perspective of world-system analysis. He is author of The Power of the Machine: Global Inequalities of Economy, Technology, and Environment (AltaMira Press 2001) and chief editor of Voices of the Land: Identity and Ecology in the Margins (Lund University Press 1998) and Negotiating Nature: Culture, Power, and Environmental Argument (Lund University Press 2000) and Rethinking Environmental History: World-System History and Global Environmental Change (AltaMira Press, 2007)Carole Crumley is professor of anthropology at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and has conducted research in archaeology, paleoclimatology, and ecology. Her interest in heterarchy’s origins in brain research and artificial intelligence, coupled with a background in Earth systems, led to her current research on contemporary complex systems. Her publications include New Directions in Anthropology and Environment: Intersections (edited; AltaMira Press 2001).

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Table of Contents

Preface     xi
Contributors     xii
Introduction: Conceptualizing Socioecological Systems   Alf Hornborg     1
Modeling Socioecological Systems: General Perspectives     13
Historical Ecology: Integrated Thinking at Multiple Temporal and Spatial Scales   Carole L. Crumley     15
Toward Developing Synergistic Linkages between the Biophysical and the Cultural: A Palaoenvironmental Perspective   Frank Oldfield     29
Integration of World and Earth Systems: Heritage and Foresight   John A. Dearing     38
World-Systems as Complex Human Ecosystems   Thomas Abel     56
Lessons from Population Ecology for World-Systems Analyses of Long-Distance Synchrony   Thomas D. Hall   Peter Turchin     74
Sustainable Unsustainability: Toward a Comparative Study of Hegemonic Decline in Global Systems   Jonathan Friedman     91
Case Studies of Socioenvironmental Change in Prehistory     109
Agrarian Landscape Development in Northwestern Europe since the Neolithic: Cultural and Climatic Factors behind a Regional/Continental Pattern   Bjorn E. Berglund     111
Climate Change in Southern and Eastern Africa during the Past Millennium and Its Implications for Societal Development   Karin Holmgren   Helena Oberg     121
World-Systems in the Biogeosphere: Urbanization, State Formation, and Climate Change Since the Iron Age   Christopher Chase-Dunn   Thomas D. Hall   Peter Turchin     132
Eurasian Transformations: Mobility, Ecological Change, and the Transmission of Social Institutions in the Third Millennium and the Early Second Millennium B.C.E.   Kristian Kristiansen     149
Climate, Water, and Political-Economic Crises in Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt   William R. Thompson     163
Ages of Reorganization   George Modelski     180
Sustainable Intensive Exploitation of Amazonia: Cultural, Environmental, and Geopolitical Perspectives   Betty J. Meggers     195
Regional Integration and Ecology in Prehistoric Amazonia: Toward a System Perspective   Alf Hornborg     210
Is the World System Sustainable? Attempts toward an Integrated Socioecological Perspective     229
The Human-Environment Nexus: Progress in the Past Decade in the Integrated Analysis of Human and Biophysical Factors   Emilio F. Moran     231
In Search of Sustainability: What Can We Learn from the Past?   Bert J. M. de Vries     243
Political Ecology and Sustainability Science: Opportunity and Challenge   Susan C. Stonich   Daniel S. Mandell     258
No Island is an "Island": Some Perspectives on Human Ecology and Development in Oceania   Thomas Malm     268
Infectious Diseases as Ecological and Historical Phenomena, with Special Reference to the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919   Alfred W. Crosby     280
Evidence from Societal Metabolism Studies for Ecological Unequal Trade   Nina Eisenmenger   Stefan Giljum     288
Entropy Generation and Displacement: The Nineteenth-Century Multilateral Network of World Trade   Andre Gunder Frank     303
References     317
Index     381
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