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Dynamic models of socio-ecological systems predict catastrophic shifts following unsustainable development

Ursino, Nadia
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.654 pp. 890-894
abandoned land, coevolution, dynamic models, environmental factors, land management, politics, risk, social environment, society, sustainable development
New interdisciplinary tools for sustainable development are expected to bridge across disciplines, to guide political decisions, and raise public awareness. A minimal socio-ecological model has been formulated to describe the co-evolution of economy, environment and society. The dynamics of wealth and population is simulated under two contrasting assumptions. The first is that the anthropogenic development produces negligible changes of the environmental conditions (blind land management). The second is that population and environmental resources change according to a predator/breeder-prey dynamic at comparable time scales (conscious land management). The model predicts catastrophic shift to migration and land abandonment or patterns of sustainable development, depending on the initial state of the socio-ecological system and investment in sustainable development actions. Man determines the fate of the system acting as predator or breeder of environmental resources. The evolution, fate and the risk of a catastrophic shift of the socio-ecological system are discussed.