Articles | Volume 7, issue 2
Earth Syst. Dynam., 7, 353–370, 2016

Special issue: Social dynamics and planetary boundaries in Earth system...

Earth Syst. Dynam., 7, 353–370, 2016

Research article 22 Apr 2016

Research article | 22 Apr 2016

Revolutions in energy input and material cycling in Earth history and human history

Timothy M. Lenton et al.

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Cited articles

ACS: Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS),, last access: 1 December 2015.
Algeo, T. J. and Scheckler, S. E.: Terrestrial-marine teleconnections in the Devonian: links between the evolution of land plants, weathering processes, and marine anoxic events, Philos. T. R. Soc. Lon. B, 353, 113–130, 1998.
Allen, J. F. and Martin, W.: Evolutionary biology: Out of thin air, Nature, 445, 610–612,, 2007.
Anbar, A. D. and Knoll, A. H.: Proterozoic Ocean Chemistry and Evolution: A Bioinorganic Bridge?, Science, 297, 1137–1142,, 2002.
Archibald, S., Staver, A. C., and Levin, S. A.: Evolution of human-driven fire regimes in Africa, P. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 109, 847–852,, 2012.
Short summary
We identify six past revolutions in energy input and material cycling in Earth and human history. We find that human energy use has now reached a magnitude comparable to the biosphere, and conclude that a prospective sustainability revolution will require scaling up new solar energy technologies and the development of much more efficient material recycling systems. Our work was inspired by recognising the connections between Earth system science and industrial ecology at the "LOOPS" workshop.
Final-revised paper