Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Ocean Space and the Anthropocene, new notions in geosciences? – An essay

  • J.H. Stel (a1)

Abstract

Two notions, Ocean Space and the Anthropocene, are discussed. The first is occasionally used in legal and governance literature, and in the media. The Anthropocene, however, is widely applied in the global change research community and the media. The notion of ocean space stands for a holistic, system science approach combined with 4D thinking from the ocean, and the processes within it, towards the land. Ocean space is in fact a social-ecological concept that deals with sustainability challenges which are the consequence of the complex interactions between humans and the marine environment on all scales. Ocean space is, on a human scale, impressively large. On a planetary scale, however, it is insignificant, although it has been an ancient feature of the Earth for the last four billion years or so. Yet, ocean space is a critical player in the Earth System; it is central to climate regulation, the hydrological and carbon cycles and nutrient flows, it balances levels of atmospheric gases, it is a source of raw materials vital for medical and other uses, and a sink for anthropogenic pollutants. The notion also encompasses issues such as exploration, adventure, science, resources, conservation, sustainability, etc., and should be an innovative and attractive outreach instrument for the media. Finally, it marks the fundamental change in ocean exploration in the twenty-first century in which ocean-observing systems, and fleets of robots, are routinely and continuously providing quality controlled data and information on the present and future states of ocean space. Advocates of the notion of the Anthropocene argue that this new epoch in geological time, commenced with the British industrial revolution. To date, the Anthropocene has already been subdivided into three stages. The first of these coincides with the beginning of the British industrial revolution around 1800. This transition quickly transformed a society which used natural energy sources into one that uses fossil fuels. The present high-energy society of more than seven billion people mostly with highly improved living standards and birth rates, and a global economy, is the consequence. The downside of this development comprises intensive resource and land use as well as large-scale pollution of the (marine) environment. The first stage of the Anthropocene ended abruptly after the Second World War when a new technology push occurred, leading to the second stage: ‘the Great Acceleration’ (1945-2015) followed by the third: ‘Stewards of the Earth’. Here it is concluded that the notion of the Anthropocene reflects a hierarchical or individualistic perspective, often leading to a ‘business as usual’ management style, and ‘humanises’ the geological time scale. The use of this notion is not supported. However, it is already very popular in the media. This again might lead to overestimating the role of humans in nature, and might facilitate an even more destructive attitude towards it, through the application of geo-engineering. The latter could be opening another Pandora's box. Instead we should move to a more sustainable future in which human activities are better fine tuned to the environment that we are part of. In this respect, transition management is an interesting new paradigm.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Ocean Space and the Anthropocene, new notions in geosciences? – An essay
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Ocean Space and the Anthropocene, new notions in geosciences? – An essay
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Ocean Space and the Anthropocene, new notions in geosciences? – An essay
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

Footnotes

Hide All

In: Mulder, E.W.A., Jagt, J.W.M. & Schulp, A.S. (eds): The Sunday's child of Dutch earth sciences - a tribute to Bert Boekschoten on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

Footnotes

References

Hide All
Arrhenius, S., 1896. On the influence of carbonic acid in the air upon the temperature of the ground. The London, Edinburgh and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science (5)41: 237275.
Ballesta, L., Cousteau, J.-M. & Descamp, P., 2007. Planet Ocean: voyage to the heart of the marine realm. National Geographic Society (Washington DC), 368 pp.
Beard, M., 2009. Pompeii: het dagelijks leven in een Romeinse stad. Athenaeum-Polak & Van Gennep (Amsterdam), 458 pp.
Beaumont, N.J., Austen, M.C., Atkins, J., Burdon, D., Degraer, S., Dentinho, T.P., Derous, S., Holm, P., Horton, T., Van Ierland, E., Marboe, A.H., Starkey, D.J., Townsend, M. & Zarzycki, T., 2007. Identification, definition and quantification of goods and services provided by marine biodiversity: implications for the ecosystem approach. Marine Pollution Bulletin 54: 253265.
Beaumont, N.J., Austen, M.C., Mangi, S.C. & Townsend, M., 2008. Economic valuation for the conservation of marine biodiversity. Marine Pollution Bulletin 56: 386396.
Borgese, E. Mann, 1975. The drama of the oceans. Abrams (New York), 258 pp.
Borgese, E. Mann, 1986. The future of the ocean: a report to the club of Rome. Montreal Harvest House (Montreal), xvl + 144 pp.
Borgese, E. Mann, 1998. The oceanic circle. Governing the seas as a global resource. United Nations University Press (Tokyo/New York/Paris), 240 pp.
Borgese, E. Mann, 2000. The economics of the common heritage. Ocean andCoastal Management 43: 763779.
Borsos, E., Makra, L., Beczi, R., Vitdnyi, B. & Szentpeteri, M., 2003. Anthropogenic air pollution in ancient times. Acta Climatologica et Chrologica 36/37: 215.
Bouchet, P., 2006. The magnitude of marine biodiversity. In: Duarte, C. (ed.): The exploration of marine biodiversity: scientific and technological challenges. Fundacion BBVA (Bilbao): 3162.
Brimblecombe, P., 1987. The Big Smoke: a history of air pollution in London since medieval times. Methuen (London), 185 pp.
Chamberlin, T.C., 1897. A group of hypotheses bearing on climatic changes. Journal of Geology 5: 653683. doi:10.1086/607921.
Costanza, R., D'Arge, R., De Groot, R., Farber, S., Grosso, M. & Hannon, B., 1997. The value of the world's ecosystem services and natural capital. Nature 387: 253260.
Costanza, R., Graumlich, L. & Steffen, W. (eds), 2007. Integrated history and future of people on Earth (Dahlem Workshop Report 96). MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 495 pp.
Crutzen, P.J. & Stoermer, E.F., 2000. The Anthropocene global change. IGBP Newsletter 41: 1718.
Crutzen, P.J., 2002. Geology of mankind: the Anthropocene. Nature 415: 23.
Crutzen, P.J. & Schwägerl, C., 2011. Living in the Anthropocene: towards a new global ethos. Climate Energy Policy & Politics, Pollution & Health Science & Technology Asia. Yale Environment 360 (posted on 24 01 2011). http://e360.yale.edu/feature/living_in_the_anthropocene_toward_a_new_global_ethos/2363/
Daily, G., 1997. Nature's services: societal dependence on natural ecosystems. Island Press (Washington), 412 pp.
DeGroot, R.S., Wilson, M.A. & Boumans, R.M.J., 2002. A typology for the classification, description and valuation of ecosystem functions, goods and services, special issue on the dynamics and value of ecosystem services: integrating economic and ecological perspectives. Ecological Economics 41: 393408.
Earle, S., 2009. The world is blue: how our fate and the ocean's are one. NationalGeographic Books (Washington DC), 303 pp.
Ellis, E.C., Goldewijk, K.K., Siebert, S., Lightman, D. & Ramankuttty, N., 2010. Anthropogenic transformation of the biomes, 1700 to 2000. Global Ecology and Biogeography 19: 589606.
FAO, 2010. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2010. FAO (Rome), 197 pp.
FAO, 2012. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2012. FAO (Rome), 209 pp.
Frank, A.G., 1998. ReOrient: global economy in the Asian age. University of California Press (Berkeley), xxix + 416 pp.
Garrison, T., 2009. Oceanography: an invitation to marine science. Cengage Learning, Inc. (Belmont), 608 pp.
Geels, F.W., 2002. Understanding the dynamics of technological transitions, a co-evolutionary and socio-technical analysis. Unpublished PhD thesis, Twente University Press (Enschede), 426 pp.
Gladwell, M., 2004. The tipping point: how little things can make a big difference. Little, Brown and Company (New York), 279 pp.
Gould, S.J. & Eldredge, N., 1977. Punctuated equilibria: the tempo and mode of evolution reconsidered. Paleobiology 3: 115151.
Grin, J., Rotmans, J. & Schot, J., in cooperation with Geels, F. & Loorbach, D., 2010. Transitions to sustainable development – Part 1. New directions in the study of long term transformative change. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group (New York): 103220.
Grosskurth, J., 2008. Regional sustainability: tools for integrated governance. ICIS, Maastricht University (Maastricht), 223 pp.
Halpern, B.S., McLeod, K.L., Rosenberg, A.A. & Crowder, L.B., 2008a. Managing for cumulative impacts in ecosystem-based management through ocean zoning. Ocean & Coastal Management 51: 203211.
Halpern, B.S., Walbridge, S., Selkoe, K.A., Kappel, C.V., Micheli, F., D'Agrosa, C., Bruno, J.F., Casey, K.S., Ebert, C., Fox, H.E., Fujita, R., Heinemann, D., Lenihan, H.S., Madin, E.M.P., Perry, M.T., Selig, E.R., Spalding, M., Steneck, R. & Watson, R., 2008b. A global map of human impact on marine ecosystems. Science 319: 948952.
Halpern, B.S., Longo, C., Hardy, D., McLeod, K., Samhouri, J.F., Katonas, S.K., Kleisner, K., Lester, S.E., O'Leary, J., Ranelletti, M., Rosenberg, A.A., Scarborough, C., Selig, E.R., Best, B.D., Brumbauch, D.R., Chapin, F.S., Crowder, L.B., Daly, K.L., Doney, S.C., Elfes, C., Fogarty, M.J., Gaines, S.D., Jacobsen, K.I., Karrer, L.B., Leslie, H.M., Neeley, E., Pauly, D., Polasky, S., Ris, B., St.Martin, K., Stones, G.S., Sumaila, U.R. & Zeller, D., 2012. An index to assess the health and benefits of the global ocean. Nature 488: 615620 (doi:10.1038/nature11397).
Hein, L., Koppen, K., De Groot, R. & Van Ierland, E., 2006. Spatial scales, stakeholders and the valuation of ecosystem services. Ecological Economics 57: 209228.
Hisschemöller, M. & Hoppe, R., 1995. Coping with intractable controversies: the case for problem structuring in policy design and analysis. Knowledge, Technology and Policy 8: 4060.
Hobson, J.M., 2004. The Eastern origins of Western civilisation. Cambridge University Press (Cambridge), 367 pp.
Holden, S.J., Holden, S., Washaw, T., Ledesma, L.V. & Beltra, D., 2007. Planet Ocean: photo stories from the ‘Defending our Oceans’ voyage. New Internationalist (Oxford), 176 pp.
Holling, C.S., Gunderson, L.H. & Ludwig, D., 2002. In quest of a theory of adaptive change. In: Gunderson, L.H. & Holling, C.S. (eds): Panarchy: understanding transformations in systems of humans and nature. Island Press (Washington DC): 322.
Huxley, A., 1932. The brave new world. Chatto & Windus (London), 288 pp.
Kemp, R. & Martens, P., 2007. Sustainable development: how to manage something that is subjective and never can be achieved? Sustainability: Science, Practice & Policy 3: 514.
Le Roy, E., 1927. L'exigence idéaliste et le fait de l'évolution. Boivin (Paris), 442 pp.
Lewis, D., 1978. The voyaging stars. Sydney (William Collins), 208 pp.
Loorbach, D., 2007. Transition management; new mode of governance for sustainable development. DRIFT, Erasmus Universiteit (Rotterdam), 327 pp.
Loorbach, D., 2010. Transition management for sustainable development: a prescriptive, complexity-based governance framework. Governance 23: 161183.
Makra, L. & Brimblecombe, P., 2004. Selections from the history of environmental pollution, with special attention to air pollution. International Journal of Environment and Pollution 22: 641656.
Marsh, G.P., 1864. Man and nature: or, physical geography as modified by human action. C. Scribner (New York), 656 pp.
Martens, P., 2006. Sustainability: science or fiction? Sustainibility: Science, Practice & Policy 2: 3641.
McKay, B. & Walmsley, A., 2003. Maori time: notions of space, time and building form in the South Pacific. In: Franz, J. (ed.): IDEA 2003. Journal of the Interior Design Educators Association: 8595.
Mészáros, I., 2001. A short history of the earth. Vince Publisher Ltd (Budapest), 168 pp.
MEA (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment), 2005. Ecosystems and human well-being: current state and trends assessment. Island Press (Washington DC), 137 pp.
Naber, H., Lange, G.-L. & Hatziolos, M., 2008. Valuation of marine ecosystems' services: a gap analysis. Worldbank (Washington DC), 57 pp.
Noone, K., Sumaila, R. & Diaz, R.J., 2012. Valuing the ocean (Draft executive summary). Stockholm Environment Institute (Stockholm), 14 pp. (www.clicandsea.fr/emploi-maritime/actu/document/2012/Valuing-the-ocean_resume.pdf)
Offermans, A., 2012. The perspective method. Towards socially robust river management. ICIS, Maastricht University (Maastricht), 250 pp.
Ostrom, E., Dietz, T., Dolsak, N., Stern, P.C., Stonich, S. & Weber, E.U., 2000. The drama of the commons. National Academy Press (Washington DC), 534 pp.
Pinet, P.R., 2009. Invitation to oceanography. Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc. (Ontario), 626 pp.
Rip, A. & Kemp, R., 1998. Technological change. In: Rayner, S. & Malone, E.L. (eds): Human choice and climate change. Batelle Press (Columbus, Ohio): 327399.
Rittel, H.W.J. & Webber, M.M., 1973. Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Policy Science 4: 155169.
Rockström, J., Steffen, W., Noone, K., Persson, Å., Chapin, F.S. III, Lambin, E.F., Lenton, T.M., Scheffer, M., Folke, C., Schellnhuber, H.J., Nykvist, B., de Wit, C.A., Hughes, T., van der Leeuw, S., Rodhe, H., Sörlin, S., Snyder, P.K., Costanza, R., Svedin, U., Falkenmark, M., Karlberg, L., Corell, R.W., Fabry, V.J., Hansen, J., Walker, B., Liverman, D., Richardson, K., Crutzen, P. & Foley, J.A., 2009a. A safe operating space for humanity. Nature 461: 472475.
Rockström, J., Steffen, W., Noone, K., Persson, Å., Chapin, F.S. III, Lambin, E.F., Lenton, T.M. & Scheffer, M., 2009b. Planetary boundaries: exploring the safe operating space for humanity. Ecology and Society 14: 32.
Rotmans, J., 2005. Maatschappelijke innovatie: tussen droom en werkelijkheid staat complexiteit. Erasmus University (Rotterdam), 87 pp.
Rotmans, J., 2012. In het oog van de orkaan. Nederland in transitie. Aeneas (Boxtel), 269 pp.
Rotmans, J., Kemp, R. & VanAsselt, M.B.A., 2001. More evolution than revolution. Transition management in public policy. Foresight 3: 1531.
Rotmans, J. & Loorbach, D., 2010. Towards a better understanding of transitions and their governance. A systematic and reflexive approach. In: Grin, J., Rotmans, J. & Schot, J., in co-operation with Geels, F. & Loorbach, D. Transitions to sustainable development - Part 1. New directions in the study of long term transformative change. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group (New York): 103220.
Ruddiman, W.F., 2007. Plows, plagues, and petroleum. How humans took control of climate. Princeton University Press (Princeton, New Jersey), 224 pp.
Scheffer, M., 2009. Critical transitions in nature and society. Princeton University Press (Princeton, New Jersey), 400 pp.
Smil, V., 2010. Energy transitions: history, requirements, prospects. Praeger (Westport), 178 pp.
Steffen, W., Crutzen, P.J. & McNeill, J.R., 2007. The Anthropocene: are humans now overwhelming the great forces of Nature? Ambio 36: 614621.
Steffen, W., Persson, Å., Deutsch, L., Zalasiewicz, J.K., Williams, M., Richardson, K., Crumley, C., Crutzen, P., Folke, C., Gordon, L., Molina, M., Ramanathan, V., Rockström, J., Scheffer, M., Schnellhuber, H.J. & Svedin, U., 2011. The Anthropocene: from global change to planetary stewardship. Ambio 40: 739761.
Steinberg, P.E., 2001. The social construction of the ocean [Cambridge Studies in International Relations 78]. Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, UK), 244 pp.
Stel, J.H., 2002. Mare Nostrum – Mare Liberum – Mare sit Aeternum, duurzaam gebruik van de oceanische ruimte. Maastricht University (Maastricht), 47 pp.
Stel, J.H., 2003. Society and sustainable use of the Exclusive Economic Zones. In: Dahlin, H., Flemming, N.C., Nittis, K. & Petersson, S.E. (eds): Building the European capacity in operational oceanography. Proceedings of the Third International Conference on EuroGOOS. Elsevier Oceanography Series 69: 592597.
Stel, J.H., 2006. Governance of Europe's Exclusive Economic Zones, a vision. In: Dahlin, H., Flemming, N.C., Marchand, P. & Petersson, S.E. (eds): European operational oceanography: present and future. Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on EuroGOOS. European Communities: 302311.
Stel, J.H., 2007. Op weg naar … Een KNMI voor de Noordzee. RWS Report (Den Haag), 110 pp.
Stel, J.H., 2010. Multilevel governance of Ocean Space, a challenge for the informed society of tomorrow. Proceedings of International Conference 50 years of Education and Awareness Raising for Shaping the Future of the Oceans and Coasts, St. Petersburg 27–30 04 2010. Russian State Hydrometeorological University (St. Petersburg): 98115.
Stel, J.H., 2012. De oceaan anders bekeken. ACCO (Leuven), 364 pp.
Stel, J.H. & Loorbach, D., 2004. Governance of Exclusive Economic Zones. In: A gateway to sustainable development. Proceedings of the 30th International Conference Pacem in Maribus – a year after Johannesburg. Ocean Governance and Sustainable Development: Oceans and Coasts a glimpse into the future. International Ocean Institute (Malta): 102116.
Stoppani, A., 1873. Corsa di geologia. Milano (Bernardoni & Brigola), 504 pp.
Tàbara, J.D. & Pahl-Wolst, C., 2007. Sustainability learning in natural resource use and management. Ecology and Society 12: 115.
The Economist, 2012. 20,000 colleagues under the sea. Fleets of robot submarines will change oceanography (9 06 2012). www.economist.com/node/21556551.
Thompson, M., Ellis, R.J. & Wildavsky, A., 1990. Cultural theory. Westview Press (Boulder, Colorado)/Praeger (Westport, Connecticut), 286 pp.
UNCTACT, 2012. Review of maritime transport 2012. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (New York), 176 pp.
Valkering, P., 2009. Toddling long the River Meuse: integrated assessment and participatory agent-based modelling to support river management. ICIS, Maastricht University (Maastricht), 255 pp.
Van Asselt, M.B.A., 2000. Perspectives on uncertainity and risks: the PRIMA approach to decision support. Kluwer Academic Publishers (Dordrecht), 452 pp.
Van der Brugge, R., 2009. Transition dynamics in social-ecological systems: the case of Dutch water management. DRIFT (Rotterdam), 264 pp.
Vernadski, V.I., 1998. The biosphere (translated and annotated version from the original of 1926). Copernicus/Springer (New York), 192 pp.
Vidas, D., 2010. Responsibility for the seas. In: Vidas, D. (ed.): Law, technology and science for oceans in globalization. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers / Brill (Den Haag): 340.
WCED, 1987. Our common future. Oxford University Press (Oxford), 398 pp.
Williams, C. & Millington, A., 2004. The diverse and contested meanings of sustainable development. The Geographical Journal 170: 88104.
Williams, M., Zalasiewicz, J., Haywood, A. & Ellis, M., 2011. The Anthropocene: a new epoch of geological time? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A369: 8351111.
WWF, 2012. Living planet report 2010: biodiversity, biocapacity and development. WWF (Gland), 162 pp.
Worm, B., Barbier, E.B., Beaumont, N., Duffy, J.E., Folke, C., Halpern, B.S., Jackson, J.B.C., Lotze, H.K., Micheli, F., Palumbi, S.R., Sala, E., Selkoe, K.A., Stachowicz, J. & Watson, R., 2006. Impacts of biodiversity loss on ocean ecosystem services. Science 314: 787790.
Yin, Y., Cohen, S. & Huang, G.H., 2000. Global climate change and regional sustainable development: the case of Mackenzie Basin in Canada. Integrated Assessment 1: 2137.
Zalasiewicz, J., Williams, M., Smith, A., Barry, T.L., Bown, P.R., Rawson, P., Brenchley, P., Cantrill, D., Coe, A.E., Gale, A., Gibbard, P.L., Gregory, F.J., Hounslow, M., Kerr, A., Pearson, P., Knox, R., Powell, P., Waters, C., Marshall, J., Oates, M. & Stone, P., 2008. Are we now living in the Anthropocene? GSA Today 18: 48.
Zalasiewicz, J., Williams, M., Steffen, W. & Crutzen, P., 2010. The new world of the Anthropocene. Environment Science and Technology 44: 22282231. (doi:10.1021/es903118j).
Zalasiewicz, J., Williams, M., Fortey, R., Smith, A., Barry, T.L., Coe, A.L., Bown, P.R., Rawson, P.F. et al., 2011. Stratigraphy of the Anthropocene. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A369: 10361055.

Keywords

Ocean Space and the Anthropocene, new notions in geosciences? – An essay

  • J.H. Stel (a1)

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed