4. 10 Mars Integrated History Of People on Earth

Start Forums Current Debates and Themes in Global Environmental History 2015 4. 10 Mars Integrated History Of People on Earth

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February 27, 2015 at 11:40 #16722
 Ylva Lundkvist Fridh

Instructions to IHOPE seminar 10/3

Student organizers: Ylva Lundkvist Fridh, Josefin Heed

In this seminar we would like you to think about your own fields of interest in relation to the rest of the academic work presented in Sustainability or Collapse, (the Dahlem workshop report on Integrated History and future Of People on Earth)? The aim of our seminar is that we all get to practice our abilities to formulate and present our ideas as well as to actively listen and give constructive feedback.

The Dahlem workhops aim at exchanging scientific information and ideas in order to stimulate cooperation in research, develop new models and create a more effective communication between scientists. In the process they chose to group the researchers into four timescales; Millennial, Centennial, Decadal and the Future. From reading the report, do you think that the different timescales make us ask different questions?

For the seminar we would like you to prepare a two minute presentation as if it was a proposed seminar for the next Dahlem workshop (for example based on your thesis idea).

To help you connect your proposal to the IHOPE project, please think of the following when you read the book: Do your question relate to any of the questions posed by the report? What is your timescale? Is it the best timescale to answer the question? Would it be fruitful to relate your question to another perspective than the one you first had in mind?

Write your assignment as if it was a proposal for a workshop at the next Dahlem workshop on Integrated History and future Of People on Earth, based on the feedback you get on the seminar.

March 10, 2015 at 12:30 #16886
 Ylva Lundkvist Fridh

My reflection: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1m1tI0-NRcpCizUrsFtq-hWmIbEFTR9XMq5PISLk9krc/edit?usp=sharing

March 11, 2015 at 16:18 #16895
 Meghan Buurmans

My reflection: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5DNLR1S1FTNSC11TlpsN2ZkUms/view?usp=sharing

March 11, 2015 at 20:49 #16896
 Lauri Jokinen

My reflection: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Jyt4mLk_QuZ3_jbtkaKkLNQx77Rg3yyv84aqHaOepp8/edit?usp=sharing

-Lauri

March 12, 2015 at 09:16 #16897
 Henrik S

My reflection https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hi9HKqI7970YBZJ8MK-MKHKk4coBg13E6ryHCRVesCA/edit?usp=sharing

March 12, 2015 at 12:59 #16898
 Ylva Lundkvist Fridh

Comment by Ylva Lundkvist Fridh on reflection by Meghan Buurmans, 10/3-15 Current Debates

As an organiser, I am glad to hear you enjoyed the seminar and found the feedback useful!

A further comment from my side on your proposal is: how you would connect it to IHOPE-project and the research they presented in this weeks reading? Do you think your question would benefit from taking a longer term perspective or is it best fit for a decadal timeframe? In a way, I think that the question of going from information to action is suited to a short timescale, as you suggest. But if you would like to enlarge the timescale, maybe it would be fruitful to compare different events in different decades?

Now when I think of your proposal I start to think of a concept introduced to me at an earlier CEMUS course. It is the theory of shifting baseline. The theory more or less says that we tend to get used to changes, especially environmental, so we do not perceive them as how radical they actually are. So, we think a certain state seems normal, when we should be alarmed. Maybe that could be a useful theory when looking at why (or if) people do not take preventive actions when you expect they would. Read more here: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shifting_baseline

March 12, 2015 at 20:37 #16903
 Meghan Buurmans

Comment on Lauri

You write a good proposal, showing the topic, what needs to happen and what some of the issues or limitations are. Your place is well defined and does not seem too big. The time scale seems hard since you probably need access to people, since there might be few written accounts, although you might have access to travel accounts or so. I wonder how much environmental data is available in this region, but that is something you would have to see or perhaps contact people or organizations for. You have a number of different viewpoints that sound interesting, but you may have to combine them or pick one. I think land use is a particularly interesting issue, as it is very relevant today. For the social organization you need to have certain contacts and most likely translators. It does sound very intersting and possible, but there are some practical limitations that you would have to address. It is interesting how you wrote the proposal and related it to the IHOPE readings. I agree with you that some of the discussions in IHOPE seem really big and as you said, we need that as well, however, it also offers some problems for our discipline that may have to be addressed.

Also, thanks for you comment, Ylva, I’ll have a look at that concept!

March 13, 2015 at 14:09 #16904
 Lauri Jokinen

Comments to Henrik

As I said also in the seminar, what you presented about the north of Sweden seems like a very interesting and a recommendable thesis topic. You also seem to have a strong connection to the area and thus I would say it is a good idea to formulate a thesis topic in connection to Norrland. You bring up a really interesting issue regarding how there have been, and still are, interventions by the state and private companies to extract resources but on the other hand there have also been interventions justified through a discourse of conservation. I agree it would be interesting to see how the state has justified different kinds of interventions and what kinds of reactions this has caused in the local communities. I don’t know what you will find most interesting and what you will choose to do for your thesis, but I see a good topic in examining the use of conservation or resource extraction as justifications or reasons for interventions in Norrland by the state and other actors. I’m looking forward to hearing how you will develop your ideas on the thesis further!

-Lauri

March 19, 2015 at 21:21 #17004
 ghidehab2@gmail.com

Ghide Habtetsion Gebremichael
Reflection of Current debates 3rd seminar
On Integrated History of People on Earth (IHOPE)
Uppsala University, 10 March 2015

After a week ahead reading a book titled as ‘sustainability or collapse? An integrated history of people on the earth (IHOPE)’ edited by Robert Constanza , Lisaj . Graum Lich and Will Steffen, we came knew that there are pretty much things that we can make research on the environmental history. Especially when we had get the chance to tell each other about our individual thesis in relation of what we have had read from the book considering of different time scale. At first I could not able to concentrate what each people to try to say and what they were explaining. But after a while, I started to be more conscious and even able to give and receive good comments. I remembered when Worster asking us in the joint supervision …[tell us about your thesis in one sentence ] which I have got it difficult to express it unless you made very precise topic with clear objectives.

I have seen also the same problem from my colleagues. Most of them have got a problem in explaining of what really they intended to do and even some of them still were they didn’t select their thesis topic. The seminar was prescheduled in that our task was we to relate our thesis with one time scale which was already mentioned in the book in separate chapters. The book was divided into five sections, with the overall organizational principle being the timescale at which the analyses are conducted. The approach was to address the collection, integration, interpretation, and analysis of knowledge on human history and environmental change at three complimentary temporal scales for the past—millennial, centennial, decadal—and to bring the same tools to a consideration of the future. In effect of that I tried to explain my thesis in relation to the both centennial and decadal time scale. My thesis was supposed to be ‘THE HISTORY AND DISCOURSE OF KACHUNG FOREST’ [a forest found in northern Uganda] brought to the table with three basic aims. To explore the social and environmental history of the Kachung area focusing on the 20th century, to explore the ecological role and possible impact of local communities in shaping the Kachung area and to discover how the present day discourses amongst different stakeholders in the forest has been shaped in a wider political and global context.

At first I was thinking to relate my thesis as decadal but as more comments come to me to relate it with centennial, I was convinced. Therefore, I planned to see my research thesis to see back 1000 years ago and how it was changed throughout time. Not only that we have also discussed on how different methods should fit to individual thesis. For example as it was already stated on the book, geographic information system (GIS) is one of the most useful methods we could employee in our thesis project (particularly in my project). However there were some challenges that I couldn’t answer during the seminar. Among them were which theoretical frame work, what kind of question should I have to use while and what kind of data can be useful to identify the long history of the forest.

December 3, 2015 at 12:19 #17605
 Sanna Karlsson

I did not attend the seminar, but am now writing a two page reflection instead. However, I read that on the seminar my fellow students got the assignment to present an idea that would be suitable for the Dahlman workshop and received feedback from the others in the group, and then presented it later in the reflection. I am almost done writing my thesis. My reflection will therefore include how well my current thesis could fit into a Dahlman workshop, and if any changes would be needed.

In the last half of the twentieth century, specialization in the academic world has increased tremendously. The effect of this has been a separation between disciplines and therefore some valuable information has been lost, which another discipline might inhabit, making research not as fruitful than would it be if the disciplines interact and work together. After all, we work and do research in and on a world that is transdisciplinary. Whatever we study, it includes different disciplines, such as ecology, chemistry and sociology.
The Dahlman workshop started in Germany in 1971. Its aim is:
”… to promote an international, interdisciplinary exchange of scientific information and ideas, to stimulate international cooperation in research, and to develop and test new models conducive to more effective communication between scientists.”

My thesis is about perservatives in wood when one million houses and appartments were built in the 1950-1960s in Sweden. The perservatives have proven now to not last as it was thought, but microorganisms interact with the perservative, creating a new substance which easily is vaporized. This substance smell just like mold, but is not. Often owners of these accomodations misinterpret the odor for being mold and even get negative health symptoms due to the belief, even though the truth is that the odor is harmless. This has not been attended to in Sweden at all, until recently when my assistent supervisor wrote a scientific article on the subject. In addition to this main focus does my thesis include a background in artificial chemical substances and toxicity on a larger, worldwide scale.

Information in the Integrated History Of People on Earth (IHOPE) is divided into four groups: millennial-scale dynamics, centennial-scale dynamics, decadal-scale dynamics, and anticipating the future. I will consequently go through each one and reflect on how well my thesis fit into these sections.
When it comes to millennial-scale dynamics, they emanated from underlying causes of mutual interactions: ”what were the contributing conditions or circumstances leading to effective or ineffective responses to climatic change?” When it comes to my thesis, some causes as to increased toxicity is mentioned. How we all play a part in it, but especially chemists making the substances and companies using them in their products. My suggestion to address the issue is also across disciplines: chemists, toxicologists, consumers working for the goal of reducing the toxic load. One more aspect which I could mention is also biologists role in seeing the negative effect on wildlife and nature concerning this. However when it comes to the wood perservative, I have not added a transdisciplinary approach in how to solve the problem. This could for example include research in nocebo (expecting a negative outcome of something neutral or positive, and receive it). This is something I could keep in mind as I continue with my thesis.
Centennial-scale dynamics has to do with our relationship to nature and how we have impacted nature tracing 1000 years back. My thesis is mostly centered around present time, at the most tracing back to the use of chemistry for good and bad back in the 1400s. This is merely in my background section though. When it comes to chemistry and its effect on nature, I am not sure of how much we know 1000 years back. What we do know is that it was not until the recent app. hundred years that artificial chemicals have been synthezised, which the world has never seen before. Since it is foreign to nature, there is no doubt that it will have somewhat negative effects on it, because it is not made for it basically. The only thing I believe we can learn 1000 years back is that some harmful elements may have killed people (e.g. arsenic), wildlife and also brought its harm to nature. However, this is not in my thesis. If it was going to be in the Dahlman workshop, this would be a good aspect to investigate further.
The decadal-scale dynamics addresses the rapidly changing relationship that humans have to nature due to the very fast increasing industrialization, transportation and globalization. This relationship is also measuarable in research much easier than before because of technology. I believe my thesis is perfectly suited for this group. I describe how quickly toxic substances and its use has increased over the last century. Suprisingly quickly, and our relationship to nature in this regard has especially changed in that we toss toxic waste pretty much everywhere. When it comes to wood perservatives, even here it is somewhat conveyed. If perserved wood becomes waste the degradating products might do harm to nature. I have not yet not investigated this, but it will more or less be part of the end product.
In the group, ”Anticipating the future”, there is talk about resilience and how to best help a society to take on catastrophies of different kinds and get back on track again before or even after a collapse. Information on our relationship to nature from transdisciplines and how they affect resilience helps here. I must admit I have somewhat a hard time fitting my thesis topic into this category. It seems wood perservatives are not significant as it comes to this. Toxicity might not etiher be of much help, unless a society is highly polluted and a type of purification is needed. Perhaps my thesis could help then. But it had to be broaden to include human-environmental relationships and its effect on developing societies in relation to toxicity.

January 3, 2016 at 19:02 #17615
 Fanny

This is a two page reflection for this IHOPE seminar which I did not attend. it also contain some feedback to the people who handled in their reflections (Ylva, Megan, Lauri and Henrik).

Litteratur reflection:
The Intentions with the workshops DAHLE arrange, what I understand it as, is to understand how humans as a part of nature has integrated in history to develop a sustainable future or driven their societies to a collapse.
IHOPE is a set of scientists from a wide range of background(interdisciplinary motivations) and organize and cluster their science into three time scales. The three scales are: “Millennial” – Up to 10 000 years ago, “centennial” – Up to 1000 years ago and “decadal” – Up to 100 years ago.
The millennial scale researches from C.L. Redman et al. focuses a lot on resilience and tries to sort out why some societies seems stay strong by e.g. climate change and why some huge and strong empires collapse. (p. 116) One important and common link Redman et al. found was the dialectic relation between climate change and how the social political system. (p.118) Some societies tend to make their systems more complex after or/and before a catastrophe. Many societies have also created stable and slow- changing system which in a long-term perspective is impossible to maintain. Redman et al also emphasize the importance for societies and its institutions to observe and respond on climate change signals.
The report also says that some cities have collapsed due to climate change through history, and some have became stronger. It’s therefore extremely important for our global society to collectively act upon the scientific warnings and physical signals we know of which are caused by climate change. However, that seems to be a big challenge. Some reasons why are that different places are more or less affected by climate change and are therefore more or less eager to act, there are also unequal relations and power hierarchies that makes it harder for some places to react on climate change (lack of money, lack of technology, lack of mandate to change unsustainable systems etcetera), we have powerful and rich forces/industries that intensively work to shut down signals about climate change and factors behind climate change. Biased media and conflicts of interest also makes it hard to communicate knowledge that is needed to react on climate change and unequal systems.
The report push hard to explain that resilience is a concept that includes a city’s ability to change its social organisation as well as a city’s ability to cope with environmental/natural changes. And that social institutions and environmental changes are very interlinked with each other, which is shown in table 14.1. (p.246).

My reflection is that we now, in present time, do not just have problems with the strict physical, chemical and environmental changes we have caused to the planet. The bigger issue to ‘solve’/dela with is to change the global political, social and financial system that both affect and is affected by climate change. However, if we know this we also know that we can change the path to a more sustainable on. One of the major and fundamental things we have to do is to reconstruct the institutions to become much more resilience, long-term aware and based on ecological and social values.

Here are my reflections on my colleagues reflections.
Ylva’s proposal was about the monetary system, growth and how the policies regarding the monetary system affects the ecological system. My understanding is that Ylva sees the lack of resilience/change in the economical system (which is connected to the social, political and ecological system). She wants to do a critical research to show that infinite growth is not compatible on a planet with limits. This is a very interesting and an important topic, however it is a field where a lot of research is already made. Alternative economic models and policies such as degrowth and circular economy are well discovered subject. My point is that we do not lack ideas, science, alternatives or other systems. The most important thing that is lacking is political and social will to implement new systems. Can this research also involve a local study which has implemented a more sustainable monetary system built on other values than infinite economical growth? How did their monetary policies looked like? How was they affected by and affecting the ecological, economical and social systems? Why did those local places implemented and created that monetary system? Examples on current places with other kinds of economical system exist here in Sweden (Flogsta and Dalarna) and a suburb outside London.
Megan’s topic is is about the gap between environmental awareness and action against climate change. She wants to find out how a big event (environmental damage or political change) affected climate action before, short after and longer after the event. What we need to change is to act on climate change right away, because already today are people affected by climate change and the longer we wait to act the worst will it get until it is to late to hindrance unstoppable catastrophic feedback-loops or “tipping points”.
Lauris and Henrik’s topics were more hands one and place bounded. Lauri wrote a proposal about the history of the river named Mono and Henrik about the long and infected conflicts between state/companies and the native people living in region Norrland in northern Sweden. Both of them have the perspective of ‘how has the place, through time, been affected by environmental/social/economical change?’, this is a very interesting perspective! One other nice question for both of the topics is “how has the changes in Mono/Norrland affected the rest of the larger landscape (region, state, even continent?)”. To put the research into a broader context.
I would also like to add a longer time perspective to Henrik’s topic. Perhaps from the 16-17th century (before the mines and land in northern Sweden became so valuable to the government and corporations). A question who focus more about the relation and attitude among the Swedish government and the Samis though time.

  • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by  Fanny.
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