Drift 25, Rm. 201 Organized Session Earth and Environmental Sciences
24 Jul 2019 04:00 PM - 06:00 PM (Europe/Amsterdam) Switch to local time
20190724T1600 20190724T1800 Europe/Amsterdam Narrating Global Environment Change: Soviet Interventions in the Climate Change & Earth Science Debates of the Late Twentieth Century

This panel examines the role of Soviet/Russian scientists within the context of the international initiatives concerning global environmental change that emerged strongly from the 1970s onwards. It reflects upon the contributions made by Soviet scientists to the key debates around climate change and related geophysical phenomena both within the formalities of major international organisations/collaborations as well as less high-profile instances of debate and scientific exchange. To this end, Jankovic's paper focuses on the ideas of the Soviet geophysicist E.K. Fedorov which were promulgated during the 1979 World Climate Conference. Taking advantage of his senior role within the organisation, he advanced a critique of Soviet and Western approaches to the climate change issue during the plenary session, drawing upon his wider understanding of society-nature interaction. In contrast to the prominent intervention by Fedorov, Amramina's paper explores the quotidian activities of Soviet and US scientists under the auspices of the 1972 US-USSR Environmental Agreement which facilitated insight into the Earth's geophysical systems through small-scale exchanges of personnel and collaborative initiatives. Shaw's paper provides a constrast to this US-USSR interaction by focussing on Soviet activities in the Antarctic and their fruitful cooperation with both French and US scientists in advancing insight into long-term climate change at the global level. The final paper (Oldfield) explores the discussions around climate change and climate futures that were evident within the USSR during the 1980s. These understandings would emerge strongly on the international scene during the initial IPCC discussions at the end of the 1980s.

Organized by Jonathan Oldfie ...

Drift 25, Rm. 201 History of Science Society 2019 meeting@hssonline.org

This panel examines the role of Soviet/Russian scientists within the context of the international initiatives concerning global environmental change that emerged strongly from the 1970s onwards. It reflects upon the contributions made by Soviet scientists to the key debates around climate change and related geophysical phenomena both within the formalities of major international organisations/collaborations as well as less high-profile instances of debate and scientific exchange. To this end, Jankovic's paper focuses on the ideas of the Soviet geophysicist E.K. Fedorov which were promulgated during the 1979 World Climate Conference. Taking advantage of his senior role within the organisation, he advanced a critique of Soviet and Western approaches to the climate change issue during the plenary session, drawing upon his wider understanding of society-nature interaction. In contrast to the prominent intervention by Fedorov, Amramina's paper explores the quotidian activities of Soviet and US scientists under the auspices of the 1972 US-USSR Environmental Agreement which facilitated insight into the Earth's geophysical systems through small-scale exchanges of personnel and collaborative initiatives. Shaw's paper provides a constrast to this US-USSR interaction by focussing on Soviet activities in the Antarctic and their fruitful cooperation with both French and US scientists in advancing insight into long-term climate change at the global level. The final paper (Oldfield) explores the discussions around climate change and climate futures that were evident within the USSR during the 1980s. These understandings would emerge strongly on the international scene during the initial IPCC discussions at the end of the 1980s.

Organized by Jonathan Oldfield

A Hero’s Counsel: Communist Climate Policy at the 1979 World Climate ConferenceView Abstract
Organized Session 04:00 PM - 04:30 PM2019/07/24 14:00:00 UTC - 2019/07/24 14:30:00 UTC
The paper explores the intellectual and ideological underpinnings of Evgeny Konstantinovich Fedorov's pronouncements on the future of communist climate policies during his 1979 plenary at the World Climate Conference (Geneva). Fedorov (1910-81), a Hero of the Soviet Union and Stalin Prize winner, was a Russian geophysicist, polar explorer, academician and Director of the Soviet Hydrometeorological Service. He led the Soviet delegation at the Geneva conference during which he made a salient intervention in contrasting communist and free-market approaches to climate change policy. In his view, only socialist societies based on intrinsic human values could provide basis for a policy that protected human dignity, international peace and the environment. This position has origins in Fedorov’s 1972 Man and Nature, in which he presented a Marxist environmental perspective in agreement with the conclusions of the Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth. For his plenary at the Geneva World Climate Conference, Fedorov additionally drew on Ervin Laszlo's Goals for Mankind (prepared for the Club of Rome in 1977). Laszlo argued for ‘breaking of inner limits’ and for ‘a world Solidarity Revolution,’ which Fedorov thought was central to any criticism of the Western hypocrisy towards the environment and for his own – and the Soviet – politics of climate change. In bringing to light this critical, if ultimately misguided position, this paper hopes to contribute to a more granular history of the pre-1980s thinking about climate change and climate change policy that includes voices that so far have received less visibility among historians of science.
Presenters
VJ
Vladimir Jankovic
Centre For The History Of Sience, Technology And Medicine, University Of Manchester
Geophysical Collaboration under the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Environmental Agreement of 1972: Peaceful Coexistence, Collaborative Circles, and Friendship DynamicsView Abstract
Organized Session 04:30 PM - 05:00 PM2019/07/24 14:30:00 UTC - 2019/07/24 15:00:00 UTC
When the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Environmental Protection was signed in 1972, the two nations had limited previous experience in joint scientific work in earth sciences outside the International Geophysical Year. Constraints in communication, scarce access to data and publications, and national security challenges of joint geophysical research inhibited scientific dialogue. While global circulations of scientific knowledge never truly ceased, professional ties between American and Soviet core-level science practitioners of two post-WWII generations had to be (re)invented in a new setting. The political détente and the environmental agreement created a necessity to develop channels and strategies of communication that had to differ even from the previous U.S.–U.S.S.R. scientific and student exchanges in the 1950s-1960s. Now American and Soviet scientists were to face each other in informal settings without an established protocol of interaction, in the lab and field, in real time. This paper explores the ways in which non-trivial real-life experiences (relocation, cohabitation and survival in the field, and exposure to different intellectual, aesthetic, and everyday cultures) shaped the relationships between American and Soviet core-level geoscientists, who participated in joint projects in seismology, paleoclimatology, and atmospheric studies under the 1972 agreement. Tracing the creation and dynamics of collaborative practices in these bilateral circles through the stories of participants, as told by themselves in interviews, their personal papers, institutional records, and popular press, offers an additional layer of understanding how exchange, sharing, and co-creation of scientific knowledge was made possible and consistent through personal connections.
Presenters Anna Amramina
University Of Minnesota
Soviet and Russian Studies of Long-Term Climate Change in Antarctica: The International ContextView Abstract
Organized Session 05:00 PM - 05:30 PM2019/07/24 15:00:00 UTC - 2019/07/24 15:30:00 UTC
The 1959 Antarctic Treaty declared Antarctica a zone of peace and a ‘continent for science’. A number of scholars, however, have pointed to the geopolitical factors which inevitably underlie international scientific collaboration. Whilst accepting this view, the aim of this paper is to suggest that to paint too dichotomous a picture of science during and after the Cold War is to oversimplify a complex situation, especially in regard to Antarctica. Having outlined factors both hindering and favouring scientific co-operation in Antarctica, and the role of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) in fostering Antarctic Science, the paper moves on to consider the origins of Vostok station as a Soviet scientific base during the IGY (1957-8). It then discusses the development of deep ice drilling at Vostok, an exercise undertaken for both glaciological and paleoclimatic reasons, eventually involving close collaboration with France and the USA. By the late 1990s the ice core at Vostok had reached a depth of 3623 metres revealing patterns of climate change over a period in excess of 400,000 years – the world’s deepest ice core at the time. The discovery of subglacial Lake Vostok, whose existence was first detected in the 1970s, is then discussed as involving international collaboration and oversight by SCAR. Finally, attention is paid to the overall contribution of Vostok to our understanding of climate change and to the view that Vostok serves as an ‘iconic record’ for global climate science.
Presenters
DS
Denis Shaw
University Of Birmingham, UK
Past Climates, Volcanoes, and Earth Analogues: Soviet Articulations of Climate FuturesView Abstract
Organized Session 05:30 PM - 06:00 PM2019/07/24 15:30:00 UTC - 2019/07/24 16:00:00 UTC
While mindful of the broad range of climate science at work in the Soviet Union, this paper focuses primarily on the use of natural analogues for comprehending possible climate change and articulating climate futures. The paper is divided into three main sections. First, it reflects generally upon the ability of natural analogues to inform our understanding of contemporary physical systems and with particular reference to debates around future climate change. Second, it places the Soviet use of natural analogues within the context of the broader climate change debate at play within the Soviet Union from the 1960s through to the end of the 1980s. This debate embraced a range of approaches and disciplinary areas. Third, it examines the use by Soviet science of natural analogues for understanding the Earth’s climate system via such phenomena as volcanic eruptions, large-scale historical natural disasters, Earth analogues and past climates. The paper concludes by suggesting that Soviet use of natural analogues was indicative of concerted scientific efforts to further understanding of the Earth’s climate system and its future state. Their use also encouraged an appreciation of the possibility of marked future changes in the Earth’s climate, whether natural or anthropogenic in origin, with potentially challenging consequences for humankind.
Presenters
JO
Jonathan Oldfield
University Of Birmingham, UK
Centre for the History of Sience, Technology and Medicine, University of Manchester
University of Minnesota
University of Birmingham, UK
University of Birmingham, UK
Dr. Martin Mahony
University of East Anglia
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