Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
While humanity is altering planet Earth at unprecedented magnitude and speed, representation of the cultural driving factors and their dynamics in models of the Earth system is limited. In this review and perspectives paper, we argue that more or less distinct environmental value sets can be assigned to religion – a deeply embedded feature of human cultures, here defined as collectively shared belief in something sacred. This assertion renders religious theories, practices and actors suitable for studying cultural facets of anthropogenic Earth system change, especially regarding deeper, non-materialistic motivations that ask about humans' self-understanding in the Anthropocene epoch. We sketch a modelling landscape and outline some research primers, encompassing the following elements: (i) extensions of existing Earth system models by quantitative relationships between religious practices and biophysical processes, building on databases that allow for (mathematical) formalisation of such knowledge; (ii) design of new model types that specifically represent religious morals, actors and activities as part of co-evolutionary human–environment dynamics; and (iii) identification of research questions of humanitarian relevance that are underrepresented in purely economic–technocratic modelling and scenario paradigms. While this analysis is by necessity heuristic and semi-cohesive, we hope that it will act as a stimulus for further interdisciplinary and systematic research on the immaterial dimension of humanity's imprint on the Earth system, both qualitatively and quantitatively.
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Citation / Publisher Attribution
Earth Systems Dynamics, v. 9, issue 2, p. 849-863
Scholar Commons Citation
Gerten, Dieter; Schönfeld, Martin; and Schauberger, Bernhard, "On Deeper Human Dimensions in Earth System Analysis and Modelling" (2018). Philosophy Faculty Publications. 312.