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Liu et al 2007.pdf

Liu, J. G., T. Dietz, S. R. Carpenter et al. 2007. Complexity of coupled human and natural systems. Science 317(5844):1513-1516. This article provides a concise treatment of key characteristics of complex systems, which we must appreciate in order to evaluate sustainability. It is nicely illustrated by six case studies, all of which are subjects of ongoing research under the Coupled Human And Natural Systems (CHANS) research program of the NSF. They show that couplings between human and natural systems vary across space, time, and organizational units. They also exhibit nonlinear dynamics with thresholds, reciprocal feedback loops, time lags, resilience, heterogeneity, and surprises. Furthermore, past couplings have legacy effects on present conditions and future possibilities.

Liu et al 2007.pdf — PDF document, 345Kb