Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society

Dear Subscribers,

GAIA - Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society 2/2015 has just been released. The latest issue features, amongst others, articles on Sustainable Land Use, on the ongoing debate about the Rebound Effect, and on Sustainability Science in the Anthropocene. For more information, please browse the table of contents below.

We thank authors, reviewers and board members for their contributions to our journal.
Your Editorial Team
Almut Joedicke, Ulrike Sehy, Tobias Mickler, Martina Blum

We invite article submissions related to inter- or transdisciplinary environmental and sustainability research. For further information click here. >

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The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES): A Call to Action >
Anne Larigauderie
reading sample >


Rebound Effects in Energy Efficiency - an Inefficient Debate? > (open access)
Thomas Friedrichsmeier, Ellen Matthies


Micro-macro Discrepancy and Cause-effect Relativity in Rebound Research >
Tilman Santarius
reading sample >


Transformative Wissenschaft - Motor für gute Wissenschaft und lebendige Demokratie >
Transformative Science - Driving Force for Good Science and a Living Democracy
Uwe Schneidewind


Nachhaltige Wissenschaft im Anthropozän > (open access)
Sustainability Science in the Anthropocene
Thomas Jahn, Diana Hummel, Engelbert Schramm

The Anthropocene, or era of humankind, has been attracting increasing public interest. What consequences does the idea of man as a geological force entail for the design of sustainable development? Which new issues will emerge for sustainability science? If indeed we do live in the Anthropocene, this may have wide-ranging implications for the relationship between science and society, hence also the natural and the social sciences. More than ever, science should act as a critical authority and enrol transdisciplinary methods. Therefore, new forms of social participation in the scientific knowledge process are imperative.


Energiegenossenschaften - das Erfolgsmodell braucht neue Dynamik >
Energy Cooperatives - the Success Story Needs New Dynamics
Jakob R. Müller, Daniel Dorniok, Burghard Flieger, Lars Holstenkamp, Franziska Mey, Jörg Radtke

Energy cooperatives, in which citizens are active, have become a symbol of energy transition at the grassroots level. However, hardly any new energy cooperatives have been founded recently. Indeed, following the amendment to the German Renewable Energies Act (EEG), these cooperatives are currently disadvantaged compared to large providers. This state of affairs calls for new business models to help establish cooperatives beside public and private utility energy providers within the energy market. Hence, cooperative members now have to accumulate know-how, create full-time positions, and mobilise private venture capital.


Studying Sustainable Change: From ABC to Practice  >
Anita Borch, Gunnar Vittersø, Eivind Stø

The Attitude-Behaviour-Choice (ABC) paradigm emphasizing the importance of individuals' freedom of choice represents a dominant way of understanding the world and how the world is created that is routinely practised within all parts of society, including in social research on environmental change. In effect, alternative views that presumably have a greater potential to change society in a more sustainable direction are being suppressed. To move society in a more sustainable direction, the influence of the ABC paradigm on current research has to be identified, dissolved, and replaced by alternative approaches. The analysis is primarily based on social practice theories as formulated by Elisabeth Shove and colleagues, as well as on methodological experiences and observations made in a 2011 study of barriers to sustainable change in Europe.


Energiepflanzen und Flächenkonkurrenz: Indizien und Unsicherheiten >
Energy Crops and Land-use Competition: Evidence and Uncertainties
Rolf Meyer, Carmen Priefer

In the first decade of the 21st century, energy crop cultivation, particularly for biofuels, has increased remarkably in many developed and transition countries, determined by political decisions. This development raised concerns that energy crops compete with food production for land use. In this review, indicators for land-use competition such as land-use change, tenure rates and agricultural prices are discussed with regard to their context and informative value for past and future competitions through cultivation of energy crops. Yield increases and changing dietary patterns are analysed exemplarily as important determining factors for potential future developments. Due to the complex interplay of many influencing factors, indicators and models can only indicate risks of land-use competition and not precise figures. The present article emphasises that available analyses have not sufficiently taken into account feedbacks which at least partly mitigate negative impacts of energy crop cultivation in terms of land-use competition.


What Comes after Deforestation Control? Learning from Three Attempts of Land-use Planning in Southern Amazonia >
Regine Schönenberg, Korbinian Hartberger, Charlotte Schumann, José Heder Benatti, Luly da Cunha Fischer

According to recent reports on deforestation control, Brazil's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) are successful. This is attributed to a combination of command-and-control style of public regulation and civil society pressure. Looking beyond decreasing deforestation rates reveals a different picture for the future of GHG optimized land use in Brazil. Command-and-control regulation seems to work as long as prohibitive measures against deforestation are concerned. However, as soon as tailor-made policies for complex issues such as land-use planning are required, the outcomes are ambiguous. Comparing the origins, the actors and the perspectives of three different cases of resource governance in Southern Amazonia, we show that the major challenges of regulation attempts are the lack of transparency and the appropriation of state agencies by powerful groups. Due to institutional weakness, the various regulation efforts fail to consider the system links needed for effective implementation. To conclude, we provide suggestions to possibly overcome the problems through innovative forms of governance.


Sozial-ökologische Forschung
Risiken durch Mikroplastik und die Ambivalenz von Plastikkreisläufen. Ein sozial-ökologischer Aufriss > (open access)
Risks of Microplastics and the Inconsistencies of Plastic Cycles. A Social-ecological Approach
Frank Betker


Helmholtz-Allianz ENERGY-TRANS
Rebound-Effekte bei privater Pkw-Nutzung. Versuch einer empirischen Annäherung >
Rebound Effects of Private Car Usage. An Empirical Design Approach
Sophia Becker


Seeing the Environment through the Humanities. A New Window on Grand Societal Challenges >
Marcus Hall, Philippe Fôret, Christoph Kueffer, Alison Pouliot, Caroline Wiedmer


Allianz Nachhaltige Universitäten in Österreich
Nachhaltigkeitsstrategien und -prozesse österreichischer Universitäten >
Sustainability Strategies and Processes of Austrian Universities
Thomas Lindenthal, Fred Luks, Vera Ulmer, Lisa Bohunovsky, Helga Kromp-Kolb


Die Alpen in humanökologischer Perspektive >
The Alps - a Human-ecological Approach
Werner Bätzing


Postwachstumsgesellschaften weiterdenken. Ein Workshopbericht >
Discussion about Society beyond Growth. A Workshop Report
Karl-Heinz Simon



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