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Understanding Earth: GIS Technology Drives a New Relationship between Humans and the Environment
By Jack Dangermond and Matt Artz

Understanding EarthOur use of and reliance on technology has moved us toward a new relationship with the environment. In countless ways, both seen and unseen, the ecosystems we once saw as “natural” have become strange hybrids—part natural, part man-made, struggling for balance under the watchful eye of human management.

As we move forward in this more mutually beneficial relationship with the environment, the dynamic is evolving—from using technology to merely exploit our surroundings toward the thoughtful application of technology to actively manage, design, and sustain our surroundings. This new relationship with the environment features a much tighter integration between humans and technology, where all decisions are carefully designed to maximize the benefit—and minimize the harm—to both humans and natural systems.

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A Framework for Geodesign: Changing Geography by Design

By Carl Steinitz

A Framework for Geodesign: Changing Geography by DesignThis new book from Esri Press details the procedures that pioneer landscape architect and planner Carl Steinitz developed for the implementation of geodesign in the planning process.

Geodesign is a methodology that provides a design framework and supporting technology to leverage geographic information, resulting in designs that more closely follow natural systems.

Describing A Framework for Geodesign, author Steinitz says, “This book should be seen as a discussion with examples, intended to illustrate the issues and choices involved in the organization and management of large and complex geodesign studies and projects.”

Steinitz’ framework is shaped by a set of six key questions he developed while analyzing and refining the geodesign process:

  • How should the study area be described?
  • How does the study area function?
  • Is the current study area working well?
  • How might the study area be altered?
  • What difference might the changes cause?
  • How should the study area be changed?

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The Techno-Human Condition

By Braden Allenby and Daniel Sarewitz
The Techno-Human Condition

In this latest version of humanity, we are equipped with a fully re-engineered immune system; the latest set of cultural assumptions about gender, ethnicity, and sexuality; and a suite of customized enhancements, including artificial joints, neurochemical mood modulators, and performance-boosting hormones. In The Techno-Human Condition, Braden Allenby and Daniel Sarewitz explore what it means to be human in an era of incomprehensible technological complexity and change. They argue that if we are to have any prospect of managing that complexity, we will need to escape the shackles of current assumptions about rationality, progress, and certainty, even as we maintain a commitment to fundamental human values.Humans have been co-evolving with their technologies since the dawn of prehistory, when tool making and meat eating co-evolved with brain development and social complexity. What is different now is that we have moved beyond external technological interventions to transform ourselves from the inside out–even as we also remake the Earth system itself. Coping with this new reality, say Allenby and Sarewitz, means liberating ourselves from such categories as “human,” “technological,” and “natural” to embrace a new techno-human relationship. Describing the terms of this relationship, and exploring sociotechnical systems ranging from railroads to modern military technology, Allenby and Sarewitz ultimately locate individual authenticity in the quest for a new humility in the face of the rapidly disappearing moorings of the Enlightenment.
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Reconstructing Earth: Technology and Environment in the Age of Humans

By Braden Allenby

Reconstructing Earth offers seven essays that explore ways of developing a new, more sophisticated approach to the environment that replaces the fantasy of recovering pristine landscapes with a more grounded viewpoint that can foster a better relationship between humans and the planet. Braden Allenby, a lawyer with degrees in both engineering and environmental studies, explains the importance of technological choice, and how that factor is far more significant in shaping our environment (in ways both desirable and not) than environmental controls. Drawing on his varied background and experience in both academia and the corporate world, he describes the emerging field of “earth systems engineering and management,” which offers an integrated approach to understanding and managing complex human/natural systems that can serve as a basis for crafting better, more lasting solutions to widespread environmental problems.

Reconstructing Earth is a thought-provoking new work for anyone concerned with the past or future of environmental thought, including students and teachers of environmental studies, environmental policy, technology policy, technological evolution, or sustainability. 
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Climate Change is a Geographic Problem: The Geographic Approach to Climate Change

By Jack Dangermond and Matt Artz

Our world faces unprecedented challenges, and only one technology is poised to collect, manage, and analyze the myriad of physical, biological, and cultural data describing the past, present, and future of earth. That technology is GIS, commonly used today to view and manage information about geographic places, analyze geographic relationships, and model geographic processes.

Climate change is a geographic problem, and solving it takes a geographic solution.  A GIS-based framework for climate science gives us hope.  With it we can gain a scientific understanding of Earth’s systems at a truly global scale and make thoughtful, informed design decisions that ultimately allow humans and nature to coexist more harmoniously.
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The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery

Edited by Tony Hey, Stewart Tansley, and Kristin Tolle

Increasingly, scientific breakthroughs will be powered by advanced computing capabilities that help researchers manipulate and explore massive datasets.

The speed at which any given scientific discipline advances will depend on how well its researchers collaborate with one another, and with technologists, in areas of eScience such as databases, workflow management, visualization, and cloud computing technologies.

In The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery, the collection of essays expands on the vision of pioneering computer scientist Jim Gray for a new, fourth paradigm of discovery based on data-intensive science and offers insights into how it can be fully realized. 
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