one planet, one ecosystem

We've only begun to appreciate in the last fifty years how complex — and fragile — ecological systems are. Even more recently we've realized how interconnected the health of those ecological systems is with our social and economic systems. We used to drain swamps to claim land for development and to control pesky mosquitoes, but now we understand that wetlands are crucial for flood control and for providing habitat to countless species. We used to think the oceans and atmosphere were too big to be polluted, but we now realize that we risk setting off catastrophic and self-reinforcing changes if we strain these systems too hard.

Our deepening understanding of ecology has taught us another important lesson: healthy systems do not remain the same for years and years, but instead adapt to change over time by cultivating resilience.


Change the Course: Hope for “Troubled Waters”

length: 14:38   credit: National Geographic

Sandra Postel views the world through a water lens, advocating for all to make simple and easy changes to their everyday lives that will help "Change the Course" of the Earth's precious supply of freshwater.

more videos

associated fellows

latest related publications

Groundwater Depletion in Colorado River Basin Poses Big Risk to Water Security

Sandra Postel    Aug 05, 2014   

  An artist’s rendering of the twin satellites of NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE). Using data from this mission, scientists have determined that a vast … >>

more posts

Two Realities

Richard Heinberg    Jul 22, 2014   

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. –Robert Frost   Our contemporary world is host to two coexisting … >>

more articles

ECONOMY: Ecological Economics

Joshua Farley

EXCERPT:  Many people would agree that the central desirable end of economic activity is a high quality of life for this and future generations.  Conventional economists argue … >>

more reports

The ENERGY Reader

Daniel Lerch Richard Heinberg Bill McKibben David Fridley David Hughes Gloria Flora Wes Jackson

What magic, or monster, lurks behind the light switch and the gas pump? Where does the seemingly limitless energy that fuels modern society come from? From oil spills, nuclear accidents, … >>

more books