Fig. 1. Consequences of mismatched spatial scales (indicated in red) between social and ecological systems. For example, the scale of social organization at which control resides is too small for many global environmental problems, such as regulating carbon emissions and managing oceanic fisheries. In contrast, global conventions or national regulations that make sense for the average location over a broad scale can have unfortunate consequences at finer scales at which local conditions may differ substantially from the mean. A typical example would be the introduction of standard regulations governing the trade, production, or use of an ecosystem service that is overabundant in some places and rare in others; harvesting regulations typically need to be determined at relatively fine scales.