What is a Horizon? Extinction and Time amid Climate Change

Adriana M. Petryna, Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting Summer Scholar, SAR

Colloquium, SAR Boardroom

Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 12:00–1:00 pm, Free

Adriana M. PetrynaAdriana M. Petryna2014 Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting Summer Scholar. Photograph courtesy of Adriana M. Petryna.Adriana M. Petryna2014 Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting Summer Scholar. Photograph courtesy of Adriana M. Petryna.

Extinction is an ecological construct that assumes some loss of natural structural stability. It also signifies a curious hiatus in the scientific imagination of what might come next. This presentation is part of a broader project that examines emerging scientific practices meant to monitor increasingly unpredictable ecosystemic behaviors (from mega-storms to sea level rise) and to inform prospective thinking about how natural systems and societal infrastructures might adapt to imminent ecological dangers linked to global climate change. Within the context of nature's increasing potential for catastrophic surprises linked to climate change, Petryna discusses how scientists are quantifying “points of no return” for ecosystems under threat and developing toolkits to detect early warning signals in what she calls “horizoning work.”

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