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SurroundingsA History of Environments and Environmentalisms$
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Etienne S. Benson

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226706153

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226706320.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

The Human Planet: Globalization, Climate Change, and the Future of Civilization on Earth

The Human Planet: Globalization, Climate Change, and the Future of Civilization on Earth

Chapter:
(p.163) Chapter 6 The Human Planet: Globalization, Climate Change, and the Future of Civilization on Earth
Source:
Surroundings
Author(s):

Etienne S. Benson

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226706320.003.0007

This chapter describes the adoption of the concept of environment by climate scientists and activists since the 1970s. It shows how producing reliable knowledge about the global climate system depended on a global infrastructure of observation and communications, one whose development in the late twentieth century was driven by the globalization of commerce, as well as by the legacies of military competition between the Cold War superpowers. By the end of the twentieth century, as the chapter shows, scientist-activists such as the atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen were arguing that it was human civilization as a whole that was threatened by global warming and other human impacts on the Earth system, which together constituted a new geological era, the Anthropocene. Nonetheless, practical attempts to marshal humanity as a whole to fight climate change through institutions such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change languished. The chapter concludes by discussing strategies adopted by advocacy organizations such as 350.org since the failed Copenhagen climate summit of 2009 to mitigate and adapt to climate change without depending on the doubtful emergence of global humanity as an effective political actor.

Keywords:   climate change, climate science, global warming, globalization, Anthropocene, 350.org, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Paul Crutzen

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