Thinking and Acting Systematically About the Anthropocene

Research paper by Yeon-soo Shim, Donald C. Bellomy

Indexed on: 03 Mar '18Published on: 31 Jan '18Published in: Systemic Practice and Action Research


To overcome the many difficulties facing our planet during the emergent Anthropocene epoch, it has become incumbent on human beings to practice systems thinking. This paper addresses this requirement in three ways. First, it identifies debates about the meaning, historical background, and scope of the Anthropocene that a clearer understanding of systems theory could help redirect to better effect. Second, it analyzes suggestions for practical efforts to deal with the crises to which system theory could contribute more effectively, both in terms of geoengineering and of cosmopolitan global citizenship. Third, it engages with emergent issues of praxis in terms of human psychological and social systems for which we need to extend, explore, and exploit systems thought in new directions if we are to have any realistic hope of dealing successfully with the crises. Specifically, while assigning causation to the complex human-triggered disruptions to earth’s systems and finding technical solutions to them require classic systems theory, it is also becoming obvious that to heal the rifts in the earth’s system, we must address the emotional bonds (and repulsions) that govern human systemic relationships, especially as refracted through the concept of resilience. Only in this way, it is argued, can we recreate a sustainable earth system as a web of transactions between humans and with the rest of their planet.