Public Seminar - Prototype Earth system impact metrics and targets

The Earth system features complex interactions between components such as the climate system, hydrological cycle, and terrestrial biosphere. While these interactions often feature in comprehensive Earth system models, a systematic assessment of how these interactions amplify local environmental pressures from businesses, cities and other actors is lacking. 

In this talk, Dr Steven Lade will explore the dynamic vegetation model LPJmL to assess interactions between climate change, surface water runoff, and vegetation cover at the regional scale. Using a feedback model, we studied how these interactions can amplify environmental impacts from carbon emissions, deforestation or water consumption. Finally, we proposed a prototype Earth system impact metric that accounts for Earth system interactions, guardrails for the safe levels of regional impacts, and the current states of vegetation cover, climate change and surface water runoff.

Our vision is that future versions of our prototype Earth system impact metric will allow businesses and other actors better assess environmental impacts of their decisions. Steven will also briefly describe the related work of the Earth Commission and the Global Commons Alliance, which is supporting the setting of science-targets for local-scale actors such as cities and businesses.


About the speaker

Dr Steve Lade is a researcher focusing on social-ecological system modelling, planetary boundaries, and poverty traps.

Using his background in theoretical physics, Steve applies theoretical modelling tools, such as dynamical systems theory and network theory, to the study of social-ecological systems, and investigates interactions between the planetary boundaries, focusing initially on the feedbacks between biodiversity (biosphere integrity) and climate change.

He is also a recipient of the ARC 2020 Future Fellows research funding to develop tools to help ensure the sustainability of increasingly highly stressed natural resources in Australia.