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Transition Universities conference, Winchester,
February 2011

Climate Change and Violence workshop series 2008 - 2012
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Climate Change and Humanity, November 2004
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Workshop 1:
14th November 2008
University of Southampton »
Dr. Mark Levene (Project director)
Deadline for
1 September 2008
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Workshop 1: Climate Catastrophe, Where are we heading?

This first session seeks to bring together two traditionally very separate disciplinary areas, one the study of earth sciences, the other, the study of violence, in order to set the scene for subsequent workshops.  A morning session will consider the relationships between anthropogenic climate change, consequent radiative forcing and earth feedback dynamics to ask a key, albeit very unscientific question: ‘how bad is bad’?  Is it possible to prognosticate on the consequences of accelerating climate change for the human species?  A second session will start by asking ‘what is violence’ and from that proceed to consider what factors in the historic and anthropological record, as well as contemporary world, we most associate with its causation and manifestation.  Does mainstream thinking on contemporary violence with its heightened emphasis on resource wars, jihadist terrorism and notions of clashes of civilisations, assist consideration of likely trajectories in an age of rapid climate change, or instead impede it?  If the latter, what other considerations need to be taken into account?  We will attempt to meld these two parts together in a final, third exploratory session: does climate change offer a new paradigm for the study of violence?  In particular, it will pose the question:  is there some point, beyond which - perhaps when thresholds in physical and ecological systems have been shown to have been irrevocably broken - we enter entirely new and uncharted terrain?  And, if so, what value is there in staring into this abyss?

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