On 12 April 2021, Dr Henrik Ernstson, KTH SEED and Geography The University of Manchester, published an article as part of the 50th Anniversary Collection of the environmental science journal AMBIO, hosted by the Royal Academy of Sciences in Stockholm.
As the leading author of the 2010-paper on “Urban Transitions,” one of the most highly cited and influential papers in the 50 year history of the journal, he was asked to provide a “behind the paper” reflection. The reflection is called “Ecosystems and Urbanization: A Colossal Meeting of Giant Complexities” and reflects in particular how early that paper was in foregrounding infrastructure and “technical networks” as entry-points for understanding the interaction between cities, urbanisation, and ecosystem stability. While the 2010-paper pushed the then nascent resilience theory to better grasp urbanisation as a socio-ecological process, Ernstson reflects on the need for environmental science to more explicitly account for uneven development and power relations in understanding environmental change.
The AMBIO journal has been a leading environmental science journal since the Stockholm Conference in 1972 and urbanization has grown rapidly as a field for the journal since the early 2000s. The full anniversary issue, to which also, amongst others, KTH’s Sverker Sörlin, Stockholm’s Carl Folk and Thomas Elmqvist, and Manchesters’s Noel Castree have contirbuted, is open access together with Ernstson’s reflection piece.
The featured image is from the Ambio journal cover in 1978 that featured an special issue on “Toxics and their control,” which the journal was early to focus on.