In 2015, the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate recognised the deteriorating resilience of the Earth system in the Anthropocene. Maintaining Earth in the interglacial state that enabled the world’s societies to evolve over the past ~10,000 years will require industrialised societies to embark on global-scale social transformations. Otherwise, there is a real risk of crossing tipping points in the Earth system triggering abrupt and irreversible changes.
A critical gap is that although nonlinear social and biophysical dynamics are recognized, we remain trapped in linear thinking. Global analyses and modelling – despite much progress – do not adequately represent nonlinear processes and abrupt changes, and social responses to sustainable development are incremental.
The goal of the ERA project is to fill this gap, by exploring the biophysical and social determinants of the Earth’s long-term stability, building up a novel community modelling platform for analysis of nonlinearity and abrupt shifts, and informing global sustainability policy processes. See our research tasks for more information.