Mobilizing the past to shape a better Anthropocene

As the planet emerges into a new epoch in which humans dominate the Earth system, it is imperative that societies initiate a new phase of responsible environmental stewardship. In this article, Nicole Boivin and Alison Crowther argued that information from the past has a valuable role to play in enhancing the sustainability and resilience of our societies. They have highlighted the ways in which that past data can be mobilized for a variety of efforts, from supporting conservation to increasing agricultural sustainability and food security. At a practical level, solutions from the past often do not require fossil fuels, can be locally run and managed, and have been tested over the long term. Past failures reveal non-viable solutions and expose vulnerabilities. 

To more effectively leverage increasing knowledge about the past, they advocate greater cross-disciplinary collaboration, systematic engagement with stakeholders and policymakers, and approaches that bring together the best of the past with the cutting-edge technologies and solutions of tomorrow.

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