During the last century the number of people, the patterns of their consumption of resources, and the altering of their environments cumulated in anthropogenic global change. Anthropogenic global change is a composite that includes attributes of the planetary geo-biosphere and artefacts of the noosphere, the sphere of social, cultural and political insights, action and interaction of people. Understanding anthropogenic global change, thus gaining insight how human activities intersect with the geo-biosphere, needs to combine understanding of the functioning of the geo-biosphere, the noosphere and of their interactions. Several paradigms can be identified, 'how humanity may consciously alter Earth at planetary scale'. They are distinguished by different attitudes towards changes in the geo-biosphere or in the noosphere. Whatever the paradigm will be “how to alter anthropogenic global change”, it will encapsulate people's world-views, cultures and preferences. Thus beyond whether science and technology are ‘sound', overarching societal issues are to tackle also. These issues are fairly familiar, e.g. how to appropriate and distribute natural resources for what cost, intended collateral effects, and with what risk of non-intended collateral effects. However the complexity of these issues appears to have no precedence. In view of 'altering Planet Earth', sound decision taking will require widespread insight of people into the functioning of the human geosphere intersections. These insights aggregate scientific, engineering and economic knowledge and understanding of the internal dynamics of the noosphere. To that end, geo-humanities may be needed to provide culturally rich descriptions how human activities should intersect the geosphere.
Published on 7 October 2015