A grand, integrated theory of land system change remains elusive. Yet, this paper shows that middle-range theories – defined as contextual generalizations that describe chains of causal mechanisms explaining a well-bounded range of phenomena, as well as the conditions that trigger, enable, or prevent these causal chains –, provide a path towards generalized knowledge of land systems. This knowledge can support progress towards sustainable social-ecological systems.
An article in Nature by GLP Fellow Karlheinz Erb provides a surprisingly large estimate of just how consequential our treatment of land surfaces and vegetation has been for the planet and its atmosphere. If true, it’s a finding that could shape not only our response to climate change, but our understanding of ourselves as agents of planetary transformation, writes The Washington Post.