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Book shows evolution that joins human and environmental sciences

ms, atmosphere, hydrological systems -- and studying each one and how they connected to, and influenced, the other parts of the Earth's systems.

That opened doors to major advances, such as improved climate prediction. It also highlighted the impact humans were having on these systems.

Burning fossil fuels are changing the atmosphere. Fishing fleets have depleted the stock of many species. Agricultural activities have led to massive deforestation. Eco-tourism, such as that generated by nature reserves in China that protect giant pandas, can lead to degradation of the very habitat meant to be protected.

"It's now time to bring all these scientific findings, and scientists, together to find out not just how people have created environmental problems but how they are solving these problems," Moran said.

Moran is mentoring a third generation of scientists. Mixing social and natural sciences, in his youth an oddity at best at worst heresy to some -- is becoming not only an acceptable path to a PhD, but shows the future direction of training for students to solve complex environmental problems.

In his recent appointment at MSU, he is aligning with centers dedicated to a holistic approach to environmental studies. In the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, he will work with Jianguo "Jack" Liu, a human-environment scientist and sustainability scholar who has turned international attention to such discoveries as how divorce (with its resulting increase in the number of households) can hurt the environment, and how ecotourism, if not properly managed, can harm habitat.

He also is using his years of work in Brazil to help reveal which land is better returned to forest, and which areas should remain in food or wood production based on their long-term value for either.

And always at the core is understanding people. He's now talked to generations of those who make their living off the Amazonian land. So

Contact: Sue Nichols
Michigan State University

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