A novel transdisciplinary approach to investigate Global Change (GC) is presented. The approach rests on the decomposition of the intrigue dynamics of GC into patterns of civilization–nature interactions (“syndromes”) by an iterative scientific process of observations, data and system theoretical analyses, and modelling attempts. We illustrate the approach by a detailed analysis of the Sahel Syndrome, which describes the rural poverty driven overuse of natural resources. The investigation is performed by (i) identifying relevant “symptoms” and interlinkages which are characteristics for this pattern, and (ii) a qualitative model representing the internal dynamics of the essential flywheel. The geographical patchwork of the regions affected by the syndrome which is obtained by global data analysis, proves the high global relevance of this pattern. The qualitative model is employed for an evaluation of basic policy strategies debated in the context of rural poverty driven environmental degradation. It turns out that a mixed policy of combating poverty and introducing soil preserving agricultural techniques and practices is most promising to tackle the syndrome dynamics.
Environmental Modeling & Assessment – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 2, 2004
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