Humans have built an anthropocentric biogeosphere; called: ‘human niche’. Global change is part of this historical process of niche construction, which implies the intersection of the biogeosphere and the sphere of human activities of social, economic, cultural, and political natures. To construct these intersections, modern-day societies deploy ‘engineered systems’ and build narratives to frame these activities with purpose. This essay describes: (i) perceptions of what ‘engineered systems’ are about, (ii) their context such as global change, human agency, and societal implications of applied geosciences, and (iii) related narratives on how to handle global change through the design of ‘engineered systems’. Subsequently, regarding underpinning insights, it is shown that they: (i) are well-known, were used in the past, and now may be applied to handle global change; (ii) enshrine a distinct choice on how human activities and the biogeosphere shall intersect; and (iii) can be described by a simple ideal-type scheme, which does not require detailed scientific-technical understanding. Subsequently, it is illustrated how this ideal-type scheme leads to different narratives about what kind of ‘engineered systems’ are preferred. It is concluded that such ideal-type narratives for a messy world may help a lay-public to choose between options regarding how to handle global change.
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