UMD AOSC-ESSIC Joint Seminar
Too Smart for Our Own Good
Dr. Craig Dilworth
Uppsala University, Sweden
Department of Philosophy
This seminar, based on my book with the same title (Cambridge, 2010), concerns the development of humankind, and the mechanism in that development that has led us to the ecological problems we are now facing.
As should be clear to everyone, we are destroying our natural environment at a constantly increasing pace, and in so doing undermining the preconditions of our own existence. Why is this so? In the book I show that our ecologically disruptive behaviour is in fact rooted in our very nature as a species. Drawing on evolution theory, biology, anthropology, archaeology, economics, environmental science and history, I discuss the ecological predicament of humankind by placing it in the context of a truly scientific theory of our speciesí development.
This theory is based on what I call the vicious circle principle (VCP). According to the VCP, over the 200,000 years of our speciesí existence, our development has consisted in a succession of revolutions from situations of scarcity or need, to technological innovation, to surplus, to population growth, and then back again to scarcity, with a larger population than in the previous instance of scarcity. Among other things, the theory explains how, in terms of the turning of the vicious circle, humans differ from other animals in that our total population has constantly grown, as has our resource use and pollution, while theirs have not. capacity, nurture a highly trained workforce, and engage the global user community, policymakers and stakeholders.
In the seminar I will present the VCP in greater detail, and show how it applies to the whole of our existence.
January 31, 2011, Monday
AOSC 818. Frontiers in Atmosphere, Ocean, Climate, and Synoptic Meteorology Research