Land Use Change: a Hallmark of the Anthropocene

Humans have always been changing the earth’s surface, but the study of land use change has been greatly aided by satellite imaging since the 1970s. Professor Eric Lambin started his career working with satellite images to examine patterns of land change, and emphasizes that understanding the patterns requires going into the field and talking to the farmers and locals using the land. He also discusses how globalization and international trade can drive land use change in unexpected ways. Finally, Professor Lambin explains the concept of potentially arable cropland (PAC) and the relevance of “peak land” in the context of the Anthropocene, especially for policy makers.

Download Episode (Right-click and select Save Link As…)


Eric Lambin
Eric Lambin’s research is in the area of land use change. He develops integrated approaches to study human-environment interactions in land systems by linking remote sensing and socioeconomic data. This includes research to better detect subtle land changes based on time series of Earth observation satellites at multiple scales. His goal is to improve modeling of causes and impacts of deforestation, dryland degradation, agricultural intensification and conflicts between wildlife and agriculture around natural reserves. New research directions include land-use transitions – i.e., the shift from deforestation or land degradation to reforestation or land sparing for nature – and the impact of land change on vector-borne diseases.


Mike Osborne
Mike Osborne is currently a fifth year PhD student using stable isotope and trace metal geochemistry to analyze coral records from the western Pacific.  In particular, he is interested in decadal scale variability and dynamics in the El Niño/La Niña Southern Oscillation (ENSO) system.  His current fieldwork is done in the Republic of Palau and Easter Island.  In addition to his paleoclimate research, Mike has developed and taught science communication courses at Stanford.  These courses are project-based and generally focus on 21st century environmental issues.

Noemi Walzebuck
Noemi is a recent Stanford grad who will be completing a co-term in Earth Systems focusing on natural resource policy starting this fall. Originally from Germany and Brazil, she is very interested in global land use and its effect on food security in particular. She loves the outdoors, cycling, traveling, and pretending to know how to cook. Noemi can be reached at

One thought on “Land Use Change: a Hallmark of the Anthropocene

  1. Yours has been my favorite podcast precisely because I learn from it. I also appreciate balance, nuance and variety of perspectives. Imagine my disappointment when after a time away, starved for something substantive , I hear Mike Osborne and Leslie Chang blather about Eric Lambin’s accent and Belgian trivia.

    If it costs too much to do the excellent substantive interviews like I’ve heard in the past. If so, better not to do anything at all than to resort to pure fluff. It’s demeaning to everyone.

    Please don’t go the route of Neil DeGrasse Tyson who now surrounds his important message in an insufferable barrage of goofiness. Is our culture really that hopelessly shallow?

Leave a Reply