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Title

Politics, Geological Past, and the Future of the Earth

Publication Year

2015

Author(s)
  • Doerries, Matthias
Source
HISTORICAL SOCIAL RESEARCH-HISTORISCHE SOZIALFORSCHUNG Volume: 40 Issue: 2 Pages: 22-36 Published: 2015
ISSN
0172-6404
Abstract

Politik, geologische Vergangenheit und die Zukunft der Erde. From the 1940s, new technologies, like carbon dating, ice- and sea-core drilling, and pollen analysis not only vastly expanded time horizons in geophysical and climatological research, but also pinpointed past events on a newly historical timescale. Using natural proxy indicators, these studies brought to light a series of globally disruptive events in geological time, for example, volcanic eruptions of previously unknown scale and types that had also an impact on the Earth's climate. The past became discrete. Knowing more about the past also meant knowing more about possible futures, given that some catastrophic events have occurred repeatedly or have become increasingly predictable with the help of computer modeling. This meant that scientists' claims about the future of the earth increasingly came to interfere with politics and with traditional economic planning. The paper argues that the new past has come to weigh in two ways on the present and the future. First, it dwarfed the human time scale, thus increasing the challenge of dealing with heterogeneous time scales. Second, prehistoric past events came to take on political significance. The deep past became part of political history, and thus of politics.

Author Keyword(s)
  • Deep time
  • political history
  • history of paleoclimatology
  • climate change
  • volcanology
  • geoengineering
KeyWord(s) Plus
  • ERUPTION
ESI Discipline(s)
  • Economics & Business
  • Social Sciences
Web of Science Category(ies)
  • History
  • History Of Social Sciences
  • Industrial Relations & Labor
  • Social Sciences, Interdisciplinary
Adress(es)

Strasbourg Univ, IRIST, F-67000 Strasbourg, France

Reprint Adress

Dorries, M (reprint author), Strasbourg Univ, IRIST, 7 Rue Univ, F-67000 Strasbourg, France.

Country(ies)
  • France
CNRS - Adress(es)
    Accession Number
    WOS:000352520400002
    uid:/WQP3TX7M
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