Niels Bohr Archive History of Science Seminar – Niels Bohr Institute - University of Copenhagen

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Niels Bohr Archive History of Science Seminar

Matthias Dörries
Professor of History of Science, University of Strasbourg

What time horizon for what kind of politics?
Climate science and deep time events in geophysics

During the 1960s, new technologies like carbon dating, ice- and sea-core drilling not only expanded time horizons in geophysical and climatological research, but also filled the deep past with many singular events on scales well beyond what so far had been recorded during human history. Knowing more about specific events in this deep past also meant knowing more about possible futures. The paper will look particularly at the current climate-change debate, which relies heavily on recently acquired knowledge of past climatic events. How to deal with future catastrophic events that lie outside the usual timescales of politics? What is responsible political action in light of events that may occur within a few decades or centuries?

This seminar is organized in collaboration with Institut Français, Copenhagen