Human interactions with the earth system: People and pixels revisited

Diana Liverman, Rosa Maria Roman Cuesta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

54 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The human use of the land is one of the critical links between people and the Earth system, with changes in land use contributing to the significant modification of hydrology, ecology, geomorphology, climate and biogeochemical cycles. Over the past decade there have been several major research efforts (e.g. IGBP-IHDP LUCC, ESSP) to link the social and natural sciences through the study of land-use and land-cover change, with particular attention being paid to the potential of linking remote sensing with socioeconomic data, local case studies with larger scale modelling efforts, and scientific research with the needs of stakeholders. This paper evaluates the extent to which such land-use-change studies can provide reliable data, explanation and projections of future land use. It assesses how such studies might address major theoretical questions in social and natural science such as those concerning the role of population or of institutions in land-use dynamics, or the detailed attribution of hazards to physical or social processes. In general, and using examples of research conducted in Mexico, the paper concludes that progress has been limited, because of factors that include the difficulties in gathering socio-economic information at global and regional scales, linking social data to satellite imagery, and forecasting human activities and policies. For interactions between the social and earth sciences to succeed, a certain level of tolerance and mutual understanding will be needed so that social scientists understand the earth science aspiration for quantitative socio-economic scenarios and predictions, and earth scientists understand the variations in how social scientists explain human behaviour and institutions and accept the clear limits to predicting human activities and decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1458-1471
Number of pages14
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Volume33
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2008
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

pixel
land use
Earth science
interaction
natural sciences
human activity
social scientist
IGBP
climate cycle
social science
human behavior
social data
biogeochemical cycle
information economics
satellite imagery
geomorphology
land use change
land cover
hydrology
science

Keywords

  • Earth system science
  • Land-use change
  • Mexico
  • Social science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Geography, Planning and Development

Cite this

Human interactions with the earth system : People and pixels revisited. / Liverman, Diana; Cuesta, Rosa Maria Roman.

In: Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, Vol. 33, No. 9, 08.2008, p. 1458-1471.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{762cf946dbed4af2aad7e317247d6ad8,
title = "Human interactions with the earth system: People and pixels revisited",
abstract = "The human use of the land is one of the critical links between people and the Earth system, with changes in land use contributing to the significant modification of hydrology, ecology, geomorphology, climate and biogeochemical cycles. Over the past decade there have been several major research efforts (e.g. IGBP-IHDP LUCC, ESSP) to link the social and natural sciences through the study of land-use and land-cover change, with particular attention being paid to the potential of linking remote sensing with socioeconomic data, local case studies with larger scale modelling efforts, and scientific research with the needs of stakeholders. This paper evaluates the extent to which such land-use-change studies can provide reliable data, explanation and projections of future land use. It assesses how such studies might address major theoretical questions in social and natural science such as those concerning the role of population or of institutions in land-use dynamics, or the detailed attribution of hazards to physical or social processes. In general, and using examples of research conducted in Mexico, the paper concludes that progress has been limited, because of factors that include the difficulties in gathering socio-economic information at global and regional scales, linking social data to satellite imagery, and forecasting human activities and policies. For interactions between the social and earth sciences to succeed, a certain level of tolerance and mutual understanding will be needed so that social scientists understand the earth science aspiration for quantitative socio-economic scenarios and predictions, and earth scientists understand the variations in how social scientists explain human behaviour and institutions and accept the clear limits to predicting human activities and decisions.",
keywords = "Earth system science, Land-use change, Mexico, Social science",
author = "Diana Liverman and Cuesta, {Rosa Maria Roman}",
year = "2008",
month = "8",
doi = "10.1002/esp.1715",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "33",
pages = "1458--1471",
journal = "Earth Surface Processes and Landforms",
issn = "0197-9337",
publisher = "John Wiley and Sons Ltd",
number = "9",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Human interactions with the earth system

T2 - People and pixels revisited

AU - Liverman, Diana

AU - Cuesta, Rosa Maria Roman

PY - 2008/8

Y1 - 2008/8

N2 - The human use of the land is one of the critical links between people and the Earth system, with changes in land use contributing to the significant modification of hydrology, ecology, geomorphology, climate and biogeochemical cycles. Over the past decade there have been several major research efforts (e.g. IGBP-IHDP LUCC, ESSP) to link the social and natural sciences through the study of land-use and land-cover change, with particular attention being paid to the potential of linking remote sensing with socioeconomic data, local case studies with larger scale modelling efforts, and scientific research with the needs of stakeholders. This paper evaluates the extent to which such land-use-change studies can provide reliable data, explanation and projections of future land use. It assesses how such studies might address major theoretical questions in social and natural science such as those concerning the role of population or of institutions in land-use dynamics, or the detailed attribution of hazards to physical or social processes. In general, and using examples of research conducted in Mexico, the paper concludes that progress has been limited, because of factors that include the difficulties in gathering socio-economic information at global and regional scales, linking social data to satellite imagery, and forecasting human activities and policies. For interactions between the social and earth sciences to succeed, a certain level of tolerance and mutual understanding will be needed so that social scientists understand the earth science aspiration for quantitative socio-economic scenarios and predictions, and earth scientists understand the variations in how social scientists explain human behaviour and institutions and accept the clear limits to predicting human activities and decisions.

AB - The human use of the land is one of the critical links between people and the Earth system, with changes in land use contributing to the significant modification of hydrology, ecology, geomorphology, climate and biogeochemical cycles. Over the past decade there have been several major research efforts (e.g. IGBP-IHDP LUCC, ESSP) to link the social and natural sciences through the study of land-use and land-cover change, with particular attention being paid to the potential of linking remote sensing with socioeconomic data, local case studies with larger scale modelling efforts, and scientific research with the needs of stakeholders. This paper evaluates the extent to which such land-use-change studies can provide reliable data, explanation and projections of future land use. It assesses how such studies might address major theoretical questions in social and natural science such as those concerning the role of population or of institutions in land-use dynamics, or the detailed attribution of hazards to physical or social processes. In general, and using examples of research conducted in Mexico, the paper concludes that progress has been limited, because of factors that include the difficulties in gathering socio-economic information at global and regional scales, linking social data to satellite imagery, and forecasting human activities and policies. For interactions between the social and earth sciences to succeed, a certain level of tolerance and mutual understanding will be needed so that social scientists understand the earth science aspiration for quantitative socio-economic scenarios and predictions, and earth scientists understand the variations in how social scientists explain human behaviour and institutions and accept the clear limits to predicting human activities and decisions.

KW - Earth system science

KW - Land-use change

KW - Mexico

KW - Social science

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=49649110375&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=49649110375&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1002/esp.1715

DO - 10.1002/esp.1715

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:49649110375

VL - 33

SP - 1458

EP - 1471

JO - Earth Surface Processes and Landforms

JF - Earth Surface Processes and Landforms

SN - 0197-9337

IS - 9

ER -