How susceptible is nature to manipulation? International Symposium on Limits to the Anthropocene

30.09.2011

Under the title of "Limits to the Anthropocene – What are the boundaries of human intervention into nature?" a symposium was held last weekend on the Anthropocene – the geological era determined by human beings – and its limits. For three days scientists from various study areas dealt with the question of the relationship between man and nature. To what extent has it undergone change over time? Which challenges result when man intervenes in nature? Which risks are entailed?

An evening function with Nobel Prize laureate Paul Crutzen opened the international symposium. It was Paul Crutzen who postulated the beginning of a new geological era in 2002 - an era in which we have lived for some time now: the Anthropocene. Paul Crutzen argues that human beings have changed the earth dramatically and have progressed to become a determining factor in the ecological system since industrialization. He introduced the topic with his talk on "Climate in the Anthropocene". Around 200 visitors came to hear what the renowned scientist had to say.

The symposium itself examined the topic from different angles, with man´s various interventions in nature coming under discussion – for example in the form of land and water use, energy consumption, the exploitation of natural resources or as intervention in the ecological system. Natural disasters and climate change were used as examples in discussions on the consequences of human intervention.
"The symposium has brought together scientists from various study areas and it has initiated interdisciplinary debate," reports Dr. Corinna Lüthje from the KlimaCampus, who organized the symposium together with Junior Professor Mike S. Schäfer and Professor Jürgen Scheffran. "We had competent speakers from a wide variety of fields, and this stimulated lively discussion extending beyond the boundaries of qualifications and specialist areas during the symposium."