Senckenberg Research

Public evening lecture
Public evening Lecture (Plenary Talk 10) (Tue, Oct. 3rd, 19:30-21:00):

Science and Society in the Anthroprocene

Klaus Töpfer

(IASS Potsdam)

  1. In March 2012 the cover of TIME Magazine: "10 Ideas that are changing your life" Idea No. 9: "Nature is over" (Bryan Walsh).
  2. 10 years before in 2002 Paul Crutzen published a short paper in NATURE: "The Geology of Mankind". His argumentation: Science and technology decoded the construction pattern of nature with the consequence: mankind has to be considered as a "quasi-geological force" (Potsdam Memorandum 2007). Mankind is no longer in the holocene but in an "anthropocene".
  3. This argumentation has huge consequences for science and society. "Nature is over" is one these consequences. Paul Crutzen comes to the consequence that a "daunting task" lies ahead of scientists and engineers to guide society through the era of the anthropocene. To correct, to "repair" the unintended side effects of human behavior:  the urgent need for Geo-Engineering on a large scale.
  4. Society will be being confronted with "path dependencies" linked with the scientifically based decisions in the past and leads to a fundamental reduction of alternatives to choose for the future. Therefore the anthropocene requests an "appropriate human behavior" leading to a new power structure in society.
  5. These considerations are of highest actuality in our world of fake news. The complexity of scientific research and findings has to be linked with trust and confidence. It questions the functioning of an open, parliamentarian democratic system.