Who is responsible for global warming? That is a question that has dominated recent climate negotiations, most notably the failed 2009 climate convention in Copenhagen. Developing countries were putting the responsibility for historic carbon emissions and thus global warming on the developed nations. Developed nations on the other hand demanded that developing countries reduced their carbon emissions. The developing countries refused this because they felt that the rich nations had to reduce their carbon emissions and allow developing nations to continue to emit carbon in the quest for economic development. The rich nations in turn argued that we are all in it together and that from now on developing nations will be the greatest carbon emitters. The deadlock over historic carbon emissions remains to this day.
A recently published article entitled “Counting carbon: historic emissions from fossil fuels, long-run measures of sustainable development and carbon debt” attempts to uncover whether the developing countries have a point about the historic responsibility for carbon emissions by the developed nations or whether this question is more complex altogether. The lead author of the Counting Carbon paper, Jan Kunnas, an independent researcher from Finland who was until recently affiliated to the University of Stirling in Scotland, discusses the question of historic responsibility of carbon emissions on this episode of the podcast.
Jan Kunnas, Eoin McLaughlin, Nick Hanley, David Greasley, Les Oxley, Paul Warde, “Counting carbon: historic emissions from fossil fuels, long-run measures of sustainable development and carbon debt”, Scandinavian Economic History Review.
Jan Oosthoek, “The IPCC and the Ozone Hole: a Warning from History”, Globalizations, March 2008, Vol. 5, No. 1, 63-66. Download paper.
“Where You Are Now” by Zapac, available from ccMixter
At present there are many environmental anxieties related to pollution, species extinction, climate change, acid deposition and many others. However, environmental anxieties are nothing new and were also experienced during the colonial period of the 19th and early 20th century. Colonial authorities and settlers in the British Empire encountered unfamiliar environments and the combination with environmental changes caused by their activities led to widespread environmental anxieties. The most important concern was anxiety over climate change. In 19th century debates surrounding this issue, highly emotive, highly alarmist arguments were made that are very similar to the ones used today. In this episode, James Beattie, Senior Lecturer at the Department of History of the University of Waikato in New Zealand explores these anxieties of settlers, scientist and colonial officials in India, Australia and New Zealand.
“Terra Incognita” by ditto ditto
Available from ccMixter
This podcast episode highlights two papers presented at a conference entitled “An End to History? Climate Change, the Past and the Future” that that was held at the Birmingham and Midland Institute in Birmingham on 3 April 2008. The papers presented addressed the issue what we can or can not learn from the experiences of past societies which have coped with climate or environmental change. In this episode Gill Chitty, Head of Conservation of The Council for British Archaeology, explores the important contributions that archaeology can make to the national debate about climate change. Jim Galloway of the Centre for Metropolitan History, Institute of Historical Research in London, reviews the evidence of the impact of storm surges on the lands bordering the Thames Estuary during the fourteenth century.
Website mentioned in this podcast:
What have historians and other humanities scholars to contribute to the understanding of global warming and informing solutions of this environmental problem? This is the central question of the interview on this podcast with Mark Levene, a Historian based at the University of Southampton, and founder of Rescue!History. He will also talk about the manifesto he wrote urging historians and other humanities scholars to get involved and contribute to the debate and understanding of global warming.
In the second half of the podcast Bill Turkell, author of Digital History Hacks, environmental and digital historian at the the University of Western Ontario, explains how historians can make better use of the web, looks at the developement of an online environmental history research infrastructure in Canada and how the use of programming languages can improve historical instruction. He also talkes about the Network in Canadian History & Environment (NiCHE).