IHOPE Background, Goals and Questions
Human history has traditionally been cast in terms of the rise and fall of great civilizations, wars, and specific human achievements. This history leaves out the important ecological and climate contexts that shaped and mediated these events. Human history and earth system history have traditionally been developed independently, with little interaction among the academic communities. Therefore, separate methods of describing these histories have been developed, and there have been few attempts to integrate these histories and information across these fields of study. Recent recognition that current earth system changes are strongly associated with the changes in the coupled human-environment system make the integration of human history and earth system history an important step in understanding the factors leading to global change and in developing coping and adaptation strategies for the future.
Three major long-term goals have been identified for the IHOPE project
- The IHOPE Research Plan is submitted for approval to IHDP and IGBP and will published in 2009.
- The School for Advanced Research has hosted two IHOPE workshops: one for the SW US project in January 2008 and one for Mesoamerica in January 2009
- The Santa Fe Institute hosted an IHOPE SW US project in July 2008
- IHOPE has obtained funding for a series of three working groups at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis to develop prototype information systems. [funded proposal .pdf]
- The Stockholm Reslience Center in Stockholm, Sweden hosted a Reslience conference 14-17 April, 2008. IHOPE contributed a panel to the Resilience Centre conference with a proposed workshop in summer, 2008 on meta-concepts.
- A summary of the IHOPE Dahlem conference has been published in Ambio. [summary .pdf]
- In 2007, IHOPE was endorsed by both the International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP) and the PAst Global ChangES (PAGES) project of the IGBP.
- IHOPE was initiated in 2005 during one of the last Dahlem conferences. The conference produced a book, released in early 2007 and is now in its second printing, available through MIT entitled 'Sustainability or Collapse: an Integrated History and Future of People on Earth'. [book]
- IHOPE has had several workshops since the 2005 Dahlem, a workshop to begin development of the IHOPE Research Plan in Stockholm Sweden, two in Japan (2006, 2007) and a strategy meeting in Austin (2007).
- A prototype Integrated Research System is under development through the coordinated activities of Arizona State University and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. We are also anticpitating collaboration with Uppsala University in the near future.
- 1. Map the integrated record of biophysical and human system change on the Earth over the last ten to hundred millenia, with higher temporal and spatial resolution in the last 2000 and the last 100 years. While emphasis will lie on the historical period (that is the most recent millennia), the long-term timeframe of analysis will depend on the region. For example, Australian history might cover up to the last 60,000 years, and in southern Europe, the last 20,000 years would capture initial colonization since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM).
- 2. Understand the socio-ecological dynamics of human history by testing human–environment system models against the integrated history. For example, how well do various models of the relationships between climate, agriculture, technology, disease, language, culture, war and other variables explain the historical patterns of human settlement, population, energy use, and earth system cycles such as global biogeochemistry?
- 3. Project with much more confidence and skill options for the future of humanity and Earth system dynamics, based on models and understanding that has been tested against the integrated history and with participation from the full range of stakeholders.
Consistent with the long-term goals mentioned above, three overarching questions have been identified for the IHOPE project:
- 1. What are the key socio-ecological interactions from an integrated history that provide insight into future options?
- 2. What are the complex and multiple interacting processes and scales that steer the emergence, resilience, sustainability or collapse of coupled socio-ecological systems? A part of this question is to understand, derive and quantify the relative contributions of humans as causal agents.
- 3. What is needed to evaluate alternative explanatory frameworks, specific explanations and models (including complex systems models) against observations of highly variable quality and coverage?