Monday, April 27, 2009

Professor Jim Fleming's lecture at University of Illinois

Professor Jim Fleming, “Fixing the Sky: The checkered history of weather and climate control,” Planet U Video Podcast, University of Illinois, April 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Audio Podcast: Vladimir Jankovic, "Show Me the Money: Climate change and the economy in 2009"

Here is the pod cast from Vladimir Jankovic's opening speech at the Conference. Intro by Jim Fleming, brief remarks by Noah Bonnheim, Donald Garden, and Marilyn Gaull.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Theodore John Kaczynski

Few people associate genius mathematician turned terrorist Theodore John Kacynski with issues of Science, Technology, and Society, but that's exactly what made him snap. Kacynski excelled academically at a young age, interring Harvard as a freshmen at the age of 16 and graduating with a PHD from University of Michigan in Mathematics eight years later. For two years, Kacynski was on the faculty of UC Berkley as an associate professor but promptly left in search of a simpler existence.
Kacynski moved into this small cabin without water or electricity in Lincoln Montana as an attempt to connect with nature and promptly started reading political theory and writing commentaries on his dislike of technology and its negative effects on society. Urban sprawl and lack of self sufficient specifically agitated Kacynski and prompted him to dedicate his life to raising awareness and enacting change, with terrorism. He argues,
"The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race. They have greatly increased the life-expectancy of those of us who live in "advanced" countries, but they have destabilized society, have made life unfulfilling, have subjected human beings to indignities, have led to widespread psychological suffering (in the Third World to physical suffering as well) and have inflicted severe damage on the natural world. The continued development of technology will worsen the situation. It will certainly subject human beings to greater indignities and inflict greater damage on the natural world, it will probably lead to greater social disruption and psychological suffering, and it may lead to increased physical suffering—even in "advanced" countries."
In his paper, Industrial Society and its Future. He also recognizes our societies reliance on this technology and the potential downfall of this addiction, "
If the system breaks down the consequences will still be very painful. But the bigger the system grows the more disastrous the results of its breakdown will be, so if it is to break down it had best break down sooner rather than later."

Unfortunately, Kacynski's blind acts of terrorism eclipse his academic analysis of technology's effect on society, forever tarnishing his legacy. However, many key people in the technology community acknowledge the validity of some of his points. Bill Joy, the founder of Sun Micro Systems, once said that Kacynski, was "murderous, and, in my view, criminally insane", but, "as difficult as it is for me to acknowledge, I saw some merit in the (his) reasoning..."

Here are some more links,
Theodore Kacynski (Wikipedia),
Industrial Society and Its Future (Kacynski's paper/manifesto).

Monday, April 13, 2009

More Responses

From Greg Cushman, Univ. of Kansas:
WONDERFUL conference. I sketched out my next five years of research and grant work in 20 pages of detailed notes on the way home, I was so stoked up.

From Marilyn Gaull, Boston Univ.
So many brilliant people and ideas. I am grateful to have been
included--and learned a great deal about climate and about human
behavior as well. You are so good at exchange, at listening,
nurturing, asking questions

I particularly admire the way you arranged everything in advance so
that we all felt like guests--and the students, as I have said often,
are just too amazing, intelligent, generous, civilized, articulate,
socially accomplished. Surely you hired them from central casting.

From Matthias Dörries, Univ. of Strasbourg
Thanks so much for a great conference and the hospitality. I enjoyed it thoroughly (intellectually, socially, and culinary). I have lots of new ideas now and went straight to the library today.

From Gabe Henderson
Michigan State Univ.
Thank you for the incredible opportunity to meet you all. I learned a lot and continue to be inspired as I am looking over my notes of the conference. I look forward to the next time!

From Brant Vogel, Columbia Univ.
That was the toughest week I've had since graduate exams, and I don't
regret a minute. Thanks for making it happen.

From Maria Bohn, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
many, many thanks for me being able to participate in the conference and for valuable days at Colby.

From Erik Conway, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Thanks for organizing this, Jim. I came away with a lot of ideas to mull over, and some great memories. Next thing on climate I’m going to do is work out the intersection of technological enthusiasm, market fundamentalism, and global warming denial for SHOT. . .assuming my brain doesn’t explode first!

From Sverker Sörlin, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
thanks for hosting us so admirably! Colby was a thrill, I learned a lot. Since I am familiar with that IGY-volume in the making I now also know that some of the contributors are "family", others less so. In any case, the mix went very well.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

On Wednesday night the conference began with a few introductions by some very intelligent and engaging people. They all spoke of the anxiety building around the world about climate change and what the world is or is not doing about it. There were several different aspects looked at and each brought a different piece of climate to the table. There was the economic outlook, the Australian outlook, the lack of imagination aspect, and many more. However, the part of the evening that really caught my attention was a comment made about “green business.” It was the statement that green business needs climate change more than climate change needs green business. This fascinated me and I decided that it was worth looking into further. The idea of environmentally friendly products is not a poor one. A world without non-biodegradable plastics, non-renewable energy, and fossil fuels is a great dream. It is something to work towards and aspire to become. Yet it seems that right now all the green businesses are doing is burying us in an economic crisis, and that is another story for another day. Despite all the negatives, there is still hope to work towards and that hope lies on the upper tiers of scientific research and not in the hands of companies that use it for their own personal gain. --Savannah Lodge-Scharff '11

While sitting in on one of the talks at the recent Climate conference at Colby College, I was surprised by the intellectual, collaborative, and light-hearted atmosphere. Without having any previous knowledge of what an academic conference on issues such as these normally entailed, this was an eye opening experience. It’s been very interesting watching these professors and scholars help mold and shift one another’s ideas into different areas that they would not have considered on their own. Colby STS Student

The Climate Anxiety Conference was a great experience. Being able to listen to many experts speak on their different fields of study was very informative. It was encouraging to see people collaborating and sharing knowledge on a relevant topic like the climate. On the one hand the meeting was serious and structured, but at the same time you could see that everyone was having fun and enjoying the opportunity to get together and discuss their research. I am glad that I had the privilege to attend this conference.

-Kyle Donovan

Here are some more links,
Day 3 (Picasa).

Friday, April 3, 2009

Day 2 at the CCA Conference

Day Two of the Climate and Cultural Anxiety Conference was held on the second floor of Rogert's Union. Here are some photos from the day and some write ups from Colby STS Students.

Attending today's conference was eyeopening. First, it was quite cool to see so many people, educated and specialized in their respective fields of study, who were able to collaborate in order to confront issues such as reductionism, scope of theory, and the scientists' "it only gets worse" model. I enjoyed just sitting among so many accredited sources of information and listening; it felt like watching a professional, televised dialogue. All-in-all it was well done and it shows that people are willing to travel great distances in order to educate others. The sort of work-together-not-against-each-other attitude that permeated Roberts was refreshing, and it will be required in order to bring about positive climate policy. Overall, the experience was significantly positive.

Victor Gagne

What are you doing with that Camera?

Colby Students taking it all in.

The youngest attendant at the Conference.

Here are some more links,

Opening Ceremonies

On Wednesday night, scholars, scientists and graduate students from around the world came to the Climate Change and Cultural Anxiety conference held at Colby College from April 1st to April 4th. Here are some photos from the dinner and speech by Vladimir Jankovic.

Professor Fleming and President of the school, Bro Adams, talking with a visiting scholar.

Dale and Marilyn chatting it up before dinner.

Bro giving a welcoming speech to the attendees.

Professor Fleming and Vlad Jankovic talking over wine and crab-cakes.

Olin 1, the scene of Wednesday night's keynote by Vlad Jankovic, "Show Me the Money: Climate Change and the Economy in 2009."

Noah Bonnheim (2011) giving a welcoming speech to the attendants.

Vlad answering questions after his talk.

Here are some more links,

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Welcome to the Official Blog of the Colby STS Department. Over the next few days we will be posting photos, podcasts and essays from the Climate and Cultural Anxiety Conference happening now at Colby.

Until then, here are some links,
Humanities and Social Science Net descriptions of Conference,
Article from the Morning Sentinel,
Colby STS Department.