EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Operationalizing Human Agency in World-Earth System Models

Ilona M. Otto
Ilona M. Otto
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The role of humans significantly altering natural systems is undisputed and human influence has been the dominant cause of global warming since the mid-20th century. If components of the Earth System are pushed beyond critical states, further large-scale impacts on human and ecological systems are likely. However, In the Anthropocene, humans are also seen as a force able to facilitate a global sustainability transformation. In other words, the individual becomes a focal point and, applying its inherent human agency, understood as the ability to shape life circumstances, opens up an analytical level incorporating choices and future action plans. The paper systematically reviews approaches that are relevant for operationalizing human agency in global human-environmental interaction models. The key aspects include representing inequalities in the resource and energy that are used to support lifestyles of different social groups, developing a hierarchical networked representation of social structure layers and rules for agent operation at the different levels, and finally building feedback and learning mechanisms that are used by agents to respond to changing environmental conditions and the behaviour of other agents.

How to cite: Otto, I. M.: Operationalizing Human Agency in World-Earth System Models, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-3546,, 2021.


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