Browse results

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 63 items for :

  • Cultural Studies x
  • Environmental History x
Clear All

Series:

Edited by Claus Leggewie and Franz Mauelshagen

Climate Change and Cultural Transition in Europe is an account of Europe’s share in the making of global warming, which considers the past and future of climate-society interactions.
Contributors include: Clara Brandi, Rüdiger Glaser, Iso Himmelsbach, Claudia Kemfert, Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Claus Leggewie, Franz Mauelshagen, Geoffrey Parker, Christian Pfister, Dirk Riemann, Lea Schmitt, Jörn Sieglerschmidt, Markus Vogt, and Steffen Vogt.

Series:

Jörn Sieglerschmidt

Abstract

The explanations for the historically changing dynamics of weather conditions vary considerably, depending on when and where they were formulated. These differing views shall be examined and explained in terms of how they affected individuals and groups, how they reflect fundamental problems of philosophical understanding in their respective times, and how they contributed to an understanding of daily or long term weather phenomena. The history of explanations shows a play between the endeavour of catching the truth and getting a reliable weather forecast on the one hand and the probability typical for all weather phenomena on the other.

Series:

Franz Mauelshagen

Abstract

We are living in an age of uncertainty: the dynamics of modern societies and their impacts on the global environment—anthropogenic climate change in particular—have changed our relationship with the future and the conditions for planning it. Uncertainty has undermined traditional prognostics based on the future of the past, with “nature” as the static scenery, towards which the drama of history was unfolding. The history of scenario planning after World War II indicates that the age of uncertainty began some time around 1970. It is a symptom of the Great Acceleration. This context helps us see the broader picture behind the new challenges climate change poses to the insurance business in Europe and elsewhere. Expanding insurance globally has been recommended as a crucial strategy of climate change adaptation. However, the Euro­pean case shows that climate change poses unprecedented adaptive challenges to the insurance business itself in a part of the world, where it has been well established for a long time. The frequency and severity of meteorological and climatological hazards are changing. Thus, the uncertainties of climate change create new uncertainties for insurance, as the example of crop insurance in Switzerland will illustrate.

Series:

Claus Leggewie

Abstract

After decades of a rather bright and optimistic futurology “future” in our days is mostly evaluated in much more sceptical and pessimistic terms. This is true for science-based scenarios (e.g. on the consequences of climate change or the degradation of biodiversity or the carrying capacity of the planet Earth in general) as well as for fiction (and science fiction). The reaction of political decision-makers was what is called in this article “futurisation”; the concept of boundaries (to economic growth or greenhouse gas emissions or the amount of public and private debt) almost naturally introduces a political approach focusing on the chances of future generations. Climate change has brought a cultural reorientation regarding the dominant time consciousness of postmodern societies, as is shown mainly in reference to the German case.

Series:

Markus Vogt

Abstract

Christian ethics can draw on a very rich tradition that aims at translating ethical arguments into ethical attitudes by equally addressing hearts and minds, deep-seated hopes, and daily life. That is why religious and ecological perceptions can enhance and complement each other in the ethical debate about climate change. The following essay shows a perspective that does not look at the relevant aspects in isolation, but rather in their entirety and unity. Christian ethical thinking adds a special value to the discussion of responsibility for nature in times of climate change, overpopulation, and scarcity of resources. For example, this chapter shows a way to see climate change as a “sign of the times” and gives an answer to the question of which competencies religions have in the diagnosis of the greatest challenges of the present time.

Series:

Rüdiger Glaser, Dirk Riemann, Steffen Vogt and Iso Himmelsbach

Abstract

Climate reconstructions for Central Europe based on data from societal and natural archives from the last millennium are presented and discussed. The long-term relationship between climate change and food security is addressed by comparing the long-term climate development with harvest yield reports and information on famines and food crises. In three case studies covering the period 1815-1847, a more detailed analysis highlights the short-term interaction between climate, vulnerability, and emigration.

Series:

Geoffrey Parker

Abstract

In 1985, a book entitled The European Crisis of the 1590s: Essays in Comparative History, edited by Peter Clark, examined the experience of ten individual regions of Western Europe, eight of them ruled either by Philip II or by his principal enemies: Elizabeth Tudor, Henry IV of France, and the Dutch. Although the individual authors noted specific disasters, most concluded that the 1590s were merely one of the cyclical crises that afflicted premodern societies. Since then, the publication of data on the global climate reveals that the 1590s saw some of the worst weather ever recorded in the northern hemisphere, a severe episode in the “Little Ice Age”—an era of major volcanic eruptions, reduced solar activity, and multiple El Niño events—linked with an increased frequency of extreme climatic events, plague, famine, and war.

Series:

Christian Pfister

Abstract

This paper provides coherent evidence on what Europe might expect in the case of a worst-case heat and drought event. The record-breaking heat in 1540 was an analogous case to the 2003 event, albeit more intense, longer lasting and affecting a larger area—extending from France to Poland and from Italy to Germany, also including Spain and Morocco. Both in Switzerland and in Poland, precipitation in spring, summer, and autumn was below twentieth century averages. Discharge deficits of ninety percent were assessed for major rivers. Due to the extreme soil dessication, maximum temperatures in early August probably rose above 40ºC. By then, forest and settlement fires were ravaging throughout continental Europe. Premodern societies were surprisingly resilient to extreme conditions, notwithstanding the widespread dysentery, cattle mortality, and forest fires. The majority of the impact of a 1540-like event on present societies would be caused by the resulting severe water shortage and its cascading across interlinked systems. In particular, fossil and nuclear energy production, which depend on a sufficient amount of cooling water, would be significantly affected. Such a shortage might entail longer-lasting power blackouts with disruptive impacts on societies and economies.

Series:

Clara Brandi

Abstract

This chapter analyses European climate leadership at the global climate negotiations of Copenhagen and the summits after Copenhagen, culminating in the successful adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015. An analysis of the Union’s conduct on climate issues indicates that by setting an example, directional leadership has been the most important leadership mode of the European Union (EU). The chapter underscores that the EU is an important player shaping global climate policy, but shows that the Union’s leadership has come under pressure. Both the failure of the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009 and global and European economic and political crises have weakened EU climate leadership in recent years. At the climate summits following Copenhagen, however, the EU managed to partially revive some of its leadership position. The chapter starts by presenting the analytical framework for the analysis of EU climate leadership by identifying three key conditions for the EU to be a successful leader in multilateral negotiations: preference cohesion (speaking with one voice), credibility, and opportunity. The chapter then illustrates that EU climate leadership came under duress in Copenhagen but has recovered since then. At the same time, EU leadership is still troubled by a number of challenges, which have to be addressed in order to safeguard and reinforce the European leadership role. For the future of climate policies and the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the EU’s role is all-important—especially in light of the position of US President Donald Trump on climate change. Looking ahead, in order to strengthen its leadership, the EU should play a key role in fostering the implementation of the Paris Agreement and in promoting it. Moreover, the EU should integrate pertinent measures to address climate change with the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) it enshrines.