CIDE-3146B Global Change: Earth Vs. Development

For several decades now it has been evident that human activities have an enormous influence on the functioning of our planet. The development process, the majority of which so far has been sustained by the economic utilization of so-called natural capital to improve the income and quality of life of people, together with population growth and changes in socio-cultural patterns at the world level, has generated enormous pressures on the planet’s resources. According to many researchers, development as currently conceived is not compatible with the planet’s limited resources. When we talk about Global Change it is assumed that it is a process that has only had an impact in the last 40 or 50 years. This is not true, however, since the earth since its formation has been in a process of constant change. The contemporary change process, however, is different in the sense that a single species (ours) is responsible for the majority of the transformation, for the use of resources, and in this sense for the future of all living beings and of the planet itself. A change of this magnitude by a single species has very few parallels in the geological past of the Earth. Although environmental issues and the relationship between society and its surroundings are at the very center of this global change, it also generates significant transformations in the political, economic, social, and institutional arenas. Global change is not something happening "over there" or something over which the regular citizen has no influence. Our daily activities contribute to global change, and what we do or don’t do has repercussions on the functioning of the planet and society. The purpose of this course is to understand how human activities have an influence on the planet, how the development process impacts the planet, and in this way, the student will be able to answer questions such as, "What is climate change?" What causes it? What other aspects of human activity and of the development process have an impact on the planet’s functioning? What future will we have if we continue the way we are going?          




Guhl Andres