‘Earth system’ analysis and the second Copernican revolution

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Optical magnification instruments once brought about the Copernican revolution that put the Earth in its correct astrophysical context. Sophisticated information-compression techniques including simulation modelling are now ushering in a second ‘Copernican’ revolution. The latter strives to understand the ‘Earth system’ as a whole and to develop, on this cognitive basis, concepts for global environmental management.

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Figure 1: A tale of two revolutions.
Figure 2
Figure 3: A ‘theatre world’ for representing paradigms of sustainable development.

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Acknowledgements

I thank A. Block, M. Cassel, R. B. Cathcart, W. Cramer, H. Hoff, S. Lütkemeier, S. Rahmstorf, D. Smart, M. Stock, J. v. Braun, V. Wenzel and the entire IGBP community for intellectual and technical support.

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Correspondence to H. J. Schellnhuber.

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Schellnhuber, H. ‘Earth system’ analysis and the second Copernican revolution . Nature 402, C19–C23 (1999) doi:10.1038/35011515

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