Peter K. Haff

Peter K. Haff

Professor Emeritus

The neoenvironment is the total environment in which we live. It is the sum of the natural, human, and technological systems and processes that surround us. It includes for example forest ecosystems, animals and machines, nanotechnology, the internet, highways, medical systems, power grids, human populations, political parties, governments and bureaucracies, robots and religions and their interactions with each other. In an age in which both the level and acceleration of technology are high, understanding and living with our "environment" can only mean understanding and living with the neoenvironment. Technology cannot be factored out of the neoenvironment leaving only natural processes. The neoenvironment must be understood as a whole. There are many consequences for the future of human-well being that flow from the emergence of the neoenvironment and my research examines some of them.


Appointments and Affiliations

  • Professor Emeritus
  • Faculty Network Member of The Energy Initiative

Contact Information

  • Office Location: 321B Old Chem Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
  • Office Phone: (919) 684-5902
  • Email Address:


  • Ph.D. University of Virginia, 1970
  • B.A. Harvard University, 1966



Courses Taught

  • ENVIRON 593: Independent Studies and Projects
  • ENVIRON 899: Master's Project
  • EOS 203S: The Surface of the Earth
  • EOS 325: The Anthropocene: The Next Epoch of Geologic History
  • EOS 393: Research Independent Study
  • EOS 791: Independent Study

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Zalasiewicz, J; Waters, CN; Williams, M; Barnosky, AD; Cearreta, A; Crutzen, P; Ellis, E; Ellis, MA; Fairchild, IJ; Grinevald, J; Haff, PK; Hajdas, I; Leinfelder, R; McNeill, J; Odada, EO; Poirier, C; Richter, D; Steffen, W; Summerhayes, C; Syvitski, JPM; Vidas, D; Wagreich, M; Wing, SL; Wolfe, AP; An, Z; Oreskes, N, When did the Anthropocene begin? A mid-twentieth century boundary level is stratigraphically optimal, Quaternary International, vol 383 (2015), pp. 196-203 [10.1016/j.quaint.2014.11.045] [abs].
  • Haff, PK, Technology as a geological phenomenon: implications for human well-being, Geological Society special publication, vol 395 no. 1 (2014), pp. 301-309 [10.1144/SP395.4] [abs].
  • Haff, PK, Prediction in geology versus prediction in engineering, Special Paper of the Geological Society of America, vol 502 (2013), pp. 127-134 [10.1130/2013.2502(06)] [abs].
  • Haff, PK, Biolevitation of pebbles on desert surfaces, Granular Matter (2013), pp. 1-4 [10.1007/s10035-013-0438-4] [abs].
  • Furbish, DJ; Haff, PK; Roseberry, JC; Schmeeckle, MW, A probabilistic description of the bed load sediment flux: 1. Theory, Journal of Geophysical Research, vol 117 (2012) [10.1029/2012JF002352] [abs].