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Inequality and the biosphere

Review article
Authors Maike Hamann
Kevin Berry
Tomas Chaigneau
Tracie Curry
Robert Heilmayr
Patrik J.G. Henriksson
Jonas Hentati-Sundberg
Amir Jina
Emilie Lindkvist
Yolanda Lopez-Maldonado
Emmi Nieminen
Matías Piaggio
Jiangxiao Qiu
Juan C. Rocha
Caroline Schill
Alon Shepon
Andrew R. Tilman
Inge van den Bijgaart
Tong Wu
Published in Annual Review of Environment and Resources
Volume 43
Pages 61-83
ISSN 15435938
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Economics
Pages 61-83
Language en
Keywords climate change, feedbacks, global environmental change, multidimensional inequality, scale, social-ecological systems
Subject categories Ecology, Economics


Rising inequalities and accelerating global environmental change pose two of the most pressing challenges of the twenty-first century. To explore how these phenomena are linked, we apply a social-ecological systems perspective and review the literature to identify six different types of interactions (or "pathways") between inequality and the biosphere. We find that most of the research so far has only considered one-directional effects of inequality on the biosphere, or vice versa. However, given the potential for complex dynamics between socioeconomic and environmental factors within social-ecological systems, we highlight examples from the literature that illustrate the importance of cross-scale interactions and feedback loops between inequality and the biosphere. This review draws on diverse disciplines to advance a systemic understanding of the linkages between inequality and the biosphere, specifically recognizing cross-scale feedbacks and the multidimensional nature of inequality.

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