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  • 1. Gissibl, Bernhard
    et al.
    Höhler, SabinePhilosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.Kupper, PatrickETH Zurich.
    Civilizing Nature: National Parks in Global Historical Perspective2012Collection (editor) (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    National parks are one of the most important and successful institutions in global environmentalism. Since their first designation in the United States in the 1860s and 1870s they have become a global phenomenon. The development of these ecological and political systems cannot be understood as a simple reaction to mounting environmental problems, nor can it be explained by the spread of environmental sensibilities. Shifting the focus from the usual emphasis on national parks in the United States, this volume adopts an historical and transnational perspective on the global geography of protected areas and its changes over time. It focuses especially on the actors, networks, mechanisms, arenas, and institutions responsible for the global spread of the national park and the associated utilization and mobilization of asymmetrical relationships of power and knowledge, contributing to scholarly discussions of globalization and the emergence of global environmental institutions and governance.

  • 2.
    Haller, Lea
    et al.
    ETH Zurich, Switzerland.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Stoff, Heiko
    Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Germany.
    Stress: Konjunkturen eines Konzepts2014In: Zeithistorische Forschungen, ISSN 1612-6033, E-ISSN 1612-6041, Vol. 11, no 3, p. 359-381Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Stress is a ubiquitous term – its historical research, however, has just begun. The article programmatically outlines the genesis and functions of the concept of stress in the 20th century. It considers stress not primarily as a syndrome and phenomenon of crisis, but as a possible means of interpretation and form of action for Western societies that define themselves as unstable, variable, innovative and dynamic. The performative power of stress as a mode of societal self-reflection will be investigated in four historically and systematically interrelated semantic fields: stress as a model of regulation and adaptation; stress as a principle of the market society (with close ties to work, power and success); stress as a critique of civilisation (with a stress-free society as utopian alternative); and stress as the flexible ecology of human-environment relationships. These fields do not follow a chronological order but present ways of understanding stress that developed in different contexts and are overlaid in the concept of stress today.

  • 3. Haller, Lea
    et al.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Westermann, Andrea
    Calculating with Nature: Economic Calculus for Resources2014In: Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte, ISSN 0170-6233, E-ISSN 1522-2365, Vol. 37, no 1, p. 8-19Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 4.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science and Technology (name changed 20120201).
    Biodiversification: A New Economy of Nature?2013Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Today biodiversity is regarded as the vital requirement for the survival for nature and life on earth. However, when the concept of biodiversity was formulated in the 1980s, its definition responded not only to conservational concerns but also to economic principles held to be essential for maintaining nature’s service functions. The perception of nature as service provider supplying humans with ecosystem goods and services emerged along with the rising service economy in the last third of the twentieth century. While service economy rested on human capital the new service ecology built on natural capital, and biodiversity became the central prerequisite of maintaining capital stock. Against this background the paper explores the recent approach of environmental economics to conceive of ecosystems as “portfolios” to be managed according to the principles of financial systems. If an ecosystem is diversified cleverly, so the idea, risks can be distributed and losses minimized, ecosystem performance will be optimized, benefits realized, and the overall ecosystem response diversity and resilience will increase. Biodiversity portfolio management claims to be able to buffer and dynamically adapt nature to external pressures and to maintain ecosystem functionality even after severe external crises and catastrophes. The paper studies these practices of ‘biodiversification’ to discuss how the New Economy of Nature, in its pursuit of nature conservation, transformed the formerly critical concept of natural capital into a resource of market-based solutions to sustainability questions.

  • 5.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science and Technology.
    Biodiversifizierung: Eine Neue Ökonomie der Natur?2012Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [de]

    Biodiversität gilt heutzutage als zentrale Bedingung für das Überleben der irdischen Natur. Jedoch wurde Biodiversität erst in den 1980er Jahren definiert und dabei nicht nur als konservatorisches Gebot formuliert, sondern auch als ein ökonomisches Prinzip, das die Servicefunktion der Natur aufrecht hält. Die Wahrnehmung der Natur als Dienstleisterin, die den Menschen mit Ökosystemdienstleistungen und -gütern versorgt, entstand mit der aufkommenden Dienstleistungsökonomie im letzten Drittel des 20. Jahrhunderts. Der Erhalt natürlicher Diversität ist keineswegs selbstverständlich, sondern Teil einer Dienstleistungsökologie, die eine möglichst robuste und anpassungsfähige Natur im Namen des Menschen herzustellen sucht. Im Vortrag werden der ökologische Ansatz und die Praxis untersucht, nach der ein Ökosystem als Portfolio aufzufassen und gemäß den Regeln der Finanzwirtschaft zu managen sei: Falls clever investiert und desinvestiert werde, könnten Risiken diversifiziert und Verluste minimiert werden, ließen sich Gewinne optimieren und eine möglichst große Reaktionsbreite des Ökosystems erreichen. Ziel der Portfolio-Theorie der Biodiversität ist es, auch nach Krisen und Katastrophen die ökosystemische Funktionalität bzw. den Servicebetrieb für den Menschen aufrecht zu halten. Der Vortrag diskutiert am Beispiel der Biodiversifizierung als Investmentstrategie, inwiefern die „New Economy of Nature“, die sich dem Ziel des Naturerhalts verschrieben hatte, den kritischen Begriff des Naturkapitals in eine Ressource des Investmentbankings überführte.

  • 6.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Coexistence: Feeding Humans into the Biospheric Cycle2013Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In 1972 the study “Only one Earth” preparing the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm warned that the “two worlds of man – the biosphere of his inheritance, the technosphere of his creation – are out of balance, indeed in deep conflict.” Not less than the survival of humankind seemed at stake. The study pleaded for “coexistence” of nature and technology, of human and other living beings. But of what kind were the new communities that emerged, and what did they exchange?

    Eduard Sueß had first formulated the concept of the biosphere as the life-saturated envelope of the Earth’s crust in 1875, and in 1926 Vladimir Vernadsky used it to describe life as a global biogeochemical force. His “physics of living matter” was taken up in 1970 when the ecologist G. Evelyn Hutchinson reclaimed the biosphere to describe the self-organizing power of life on earth. Systems ecologist Howard Odum in 1971 turned the biosphere into a self-contained and self-maintained system of matter and energy circulation. Odum explicitly linked the biosphere to the technosphere when comparing it to closed systems for space, computing the power requirements per day for total life support of a human being and the input and output levels for “long-range survival”.

    This paper discusses two test phases exploring the coexistence of biotic mass – human, plant and animal – in materially closed systems between the 1960s and the 1990s. BIOS 3 (USSR, 1960s-1970s) and Biosphere 2 (USA, 1980s-1990s) combined the contemporary ideals of environmental sufficiency and technological efficiency: BIOS 3 enclosed human beings and chlorella algae to maintain a viable atmosphere in a symbiotic relationship. Biosphere 2 experimented with the technological reconstruction of the major cycles of the earth’s biosphere on a miniature scale, complete with soil, air, mineral, water and waste cycles. Both were projects of ‘feeding’ human elements into sustainable circulatory systems of living matter, with the ultimate aim of reproducing and sending forth offspring biospheres to populate other planets.

  • 7.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science and Technology.
    Comment in the session "Lebensraum Meer. Umwelt- und entwicklungspolitische Ressourcenfragen in den 1960er und 1970er Jahren"2012Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 8.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science and Technology.
    Der kreative Kollaps: Resilienz als Überlebensmodell in Zeiten der Flexibilisierung2012Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [de]

    Resilienz ist der Begriff für die Fähigkeit eines Systems, flexibel auf äußere Störungen zu reagieren. Statt dem linearen Ideal der Erholung und Restabilisierung zu folgen, reorganisiert sich das resiliente System und geht in neue stabile Konfigurationen über. Resilienz stammt ursprünglich aus der Materialforschung, wanderte im 20. Jahrhundert in die Psychologie und Ökologie und weitete sich dabei zu einem Systembegriff aus, der so unterschiedliche Größen wie die Persönlichkeit als affektprozessierendes System oder die Natur als Ökosystem erfasste. Gegenwärtig ist Resilienz das Zauberwort in der Erforschung der Folgen des Klimawandels. Für zunehmend komplexe und anfällige sozial-ökologische Infrastruktursysteme soll Resilienz eine Überlebensstrategie bieten. Der Vortrag nimmt die Stressökologie der 1970er Jahre zum Ausgangspunkt, um das entstehende Ideal einer multistabilen Natur zu untersuchen, die auch nicht antizipierte willkürliche und diskontinuierliche Veränderungen bewältigen sollte. Der Vortrag diskutiert insbesondere die Bedeutung des erwarteten Versagens in der Resilienzforschung. Systemversagen wird zur Bedingung für die Selbstoptimierung der Natur: aus Krisen und Katastrophen gehen Ökosysteme gestärkt hervor. Zugespitzt, so die These, lässt sich das resiliente Ökosystem als ein Beispiel dafür auffassen, dass der Kollaps nicht mehr als ein Problem, sondern als ein Motor des evolutionären Wandels aufgefasst wird.

  • 9.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Die akustische Erkundung der Tiefe: Vom Echolot zum Sonar2013In: Der Sound des Jahrhunderts: Ein akustisches Porträt des 20. und beginnenden 21. Jahrhunderts / [ed] Gerhard Paul, Ralph Schock, Bonn: BPB Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung , 2013Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 10.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science and Technology (name changed 20120201).
    Die Weltmeere: Science und Fiction des Unerschöpflichen in Zeiten neuer Wachstumsgrenzen2014In: Geschichte und Gesellschaft, ISSN 0340-613X, E-ISSN 2196-9000, Vol. 40, no 3, p. 437-451Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Around 1970 the world’s oceans were not just another resource to be developed. They were the imaginary place of the inexhaustible, an unlimited reservoir of proteins, mineral resources and human living space, supplementing the exploited landmasses. This article argues that the sciences, technologies and politics of ocean exploration promoted the image of the earth’s biotic and abiotic matter as convertible and replaceable in perfect metabolic cycles. Human matter, the earth’s only excess living resource, was seen as feeding directly into these global supply chains and recycling systems. The eco-technological reorganization of the earth’s environment, based on biomass as the unit of community, opened a historically new dimension of the oceans in the global economy and ecology of flows.

  • 11.
    Höhler, Sabine
    Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Die Zahl Zwei als globaler Leitwert und Grenzwert in der Klimadebatte2016Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [de]

    Die Zahl Zwei hat im globalen Klimawandeldiskurs eine bemerkenswerte Karriere gemacht. Mit der Formulierung des Zwei-Grad-Ziels im Copenhagen Accord 2009 stieg die Zahl zu einem Leitwert in der internationalen Klimapolitik auf und wurde neben CO2 zum wohl einschlägigsten Klimasymbol in der öffentlichen Wahrnehmung. Die Zwei beziffert das Ziel, die durchschnittliche globale Temperaturerhöhung auf zwei Grad Celsius gegenüber dem Niveau vor Beginn der Industrialisierung zu begrenzen. Dem Ziel zugrunde liegen naturwissenschaftliche Annahmen quantifizierbarer planetarischer Belastungsgrenzen. Zwei Grad markieren den einzuhaltenden Grenzwert, unter dem die gegenwärtigen ökologischen und sozialen Bedingungen auf der Erde erhalten bleiben sollen. Als Leitwert wie als Grenzwert hat die Zwei eine enorme diskursive Ubiquität und Macht entfaltet. Dies wurde zuletzt bei der COP21 im Dezember 2015 in Paris deutlich. Während der Klimakonferenz orientierten sich die internationalen Verhandlungen fast ausschließlich am Zwei-Grad-Ziel.

     

    Das Zwei-Grad-Ziel ist eine relativ junge Festlegung. Um sie zu treffen, wurden naturwissenschaftliche Beobachtungen und Messungen über große Räume und Zeiträume aggregiert und in Wahrscheinlichkeits- und Modellrechnungen hervorgebrachtes Klimawissen mit politischen Projektionen und Steuerungsentwürfen verknüpft. In ihren heutigen Verwendungszusammenhängen tauchten Grenzwert und Leitwert in den 1980er und 1990er Jahren auf. Im Jahre 2010 wurde das Zwei-Grad-Ziel als UN-Ziel verankert. Als Grundlage der globalen Verhandlung und Steuerung blieb es jedoch wissenschaftlich und politisch umstritten, denn es kämpfte mit dem Vorwurf der Willkür. Zwei Grad schienen entweder als viel zu hoch oder als viel zu niedrig angesetzt. Die Zahl trägt schwer an den Unsicherheiten ihrer Bezifferung und an den Unwägbarkeiten der Folgen bei Überschreitung der Grenze, die sie markiert. Zwei-Grad-Ziel und Zwei-Grad-Grenze gelten weder als gewiss noch als sicher bzw. tolerabel.

     

    Es ist das Besondere der Zwei, dass sie wissenschaftliche Klimagrenzen und politische Klimaziele, formuliert im globalen Maßstab, in der Form einer einzigen Ziffer ausdrückt. Diese hochaggregierte Zahl wurde diskursiv einschlägig und global handlungsleitend, ohne lokal oder individuell erfahrbar zu sein. Das Faszinierende der Zwei ist zugleich ihr Problem. Es ist ein Paradox der globalen Zahl Zwei, dass sich der abstrakte globale Klimagrenzwert nicht auf die Vielfalt lokaler Klimaereignisse und Klimaerfahrungen abbilden lässt. Ein zweites Paradox liegt darin, dass sich in der Zwei Forderungen nach sozialer Veränderung konzentrieren, die auf naturwissenschaftlichen Prämissen beruhen. Leitwert und Grenzwert stehen dabei nicht notwendig im Einklang. Während der Zwei-Grad-Leitwert einen politischen Wendepunkt bezeichnet, markiert der Zwei-Grad-Grenzwert den ökologischen Umschlagpunkt, die Schwelle, an dem der ökologische Wandel unaufhaltsam zu werden droht. Wendepunkt und Umschlagpunkt beschreiben durchaus unterschiedliche Zukünfte. Der Wendepunkt markiert den sozialökologisch ‚elastischen’ Bereich, in dem sich der gewünschte Wandel vollziehen soll. Der Umschlagpunkt hingegen offeriert verschiedene neue Optionen, unter denen Stabilität nur eine Lösung ausweist. Alternative Optionen werden gegenwärtig unter der Vorstellung multistabiler sozialökologischer Systeme verhandelt.

     

    Mich interessieren zum einen die politischen Prozesse um das Zwei-Grad-Ziel. Dabei geht es mir weniger um die Frage, wer Recht bekommt und wer Recht behält. Mich interessieren die Möglichkeitsbedingungen und die Folgen der Quantifizierung selbst, mit der die Zahl Zwei zu einem globalen Maßstab werden konnte. Neben den genannten Paradoxien der Zwei als einem hoch aggregierten abstrakten globalen Durchschnittswert, der so schlagkräftig wie unsicher ist, sind mit der Zwei eine Reihe problematischer Annahmen verbunden. Diese Annahmen möchte ich gerne in der Form von Thesen diskutieren. Sie stehen in Bezug zu Konzepten, die gegenwärtig im Zusammenhang mit dem Problem des anthropogenen Klimawandels aufgeworfen werden und die eng miteinander verzahnt sind:

     

    1. Zwei aggregiert über Ungleichheiten der Verursachung wie der Folgen von Klimawandel hinweg. Die Zahl ist in ihrer wissenschaftlichen und politischen Reichweite global, keineswegs aber ist sie universell in ihrer Geltung. Zwei ist nicht für alle und überall gleich zwei.
    2. Zwei ist nicht nur anthropogen, sondern auch anthropozentrisch. Zwei geht der Frage nach, welcher Wandel für den Menschen erträglich sein wird. Im Zwei-Grad Ziel entfaltet das „Anthropozän“ eine seiner vielen problematischen Bedeutungen. Das geologische Zeitalter des Menschen ist kein geozentrisches, sondern ein anthropozentrisches; es rückt den Menschen selbst ins Zentrum.
    3. Zwei gibt der Vorstellung naturwissenschaftlich quantifizierbarer planetarischer Systemgrenzen Ausdruck, aus denen sich weitere globale Zahlen ableiten lassen. Zwei ist aus der Vorstellung eines Erdsystems heraus formuliert; Zwei folgt der Annahme der Stabilität des Systems innerhalb eines quantitativ bestimmbaren Rahmens. Inhärente Probleme des Systemdenkens, wie die Frage, wie mit globalen Durchschnitten auf lokale Differenzen geantwortet oder wie lokal gesteuert werden kann, bleiben ungelöst.
    4. Zwei verweist auf das aus der Erdsystemforschung entwickelte Konzept der Planetarischen Grenzen (Planetary Boundaries), die den „sicheren Handlungsraum“ (safe operating space) der Menschheit umreißen. Andere denkbare Fragestellungen und Vorstellungen von irdischer Habitabilität, etwa in Bezug auf Inter- und Multispezies-Beziehungen, bleiben unberücksichtigt, sofern sie nicht bereits ökologisch bestimmbar und als Teil des Erdsystems erfasst sind. Die Erdsystemforschung verstellt quasi systematisch den Blick auf disaggregierte, differenzierte Akteure, die ein System in unterschiedlicher Weise bewohnen.
    5. Zwei sieht den Bremsweg ohne Unfall vor und folgt damit der Idee einer Einteilung in für den Menschen gefährlichen und ungefährlichen Klimawandel. Eine Zwei-Grad-Welt lässt sich prinzipiell als eine lineare Extrapolation der gegenwärtigen Erde vorstellen.
    6. Zwei markiert die Kipp- oder Umschlagpunkte (Tipping Points) des Systems, wie etwa die Umkehr des Golfstroms. Zwei enthält das unwiderstehliche Imaginäre des Überschießens (Overshoot), das die Erde in Systemzustände mit für den Menschen ungewissen Folgen überführt.
    7. Zwei greift aus in das semantische und systemische Feld der „Resilienz“ sozial-ökologischer Systeme – die Annahme der Flexibilität und Adaptivität über den elastischen Auslenkungsbereich hinaus. Als Grenzwert kalkuliert die Zwei die Lernfähigkeit des sozial-ökologischen Systems als ultimative Konsequenz bereits mit ein.

     

     

  • 12.
    Höhler, Sabine
    Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Ecospheres: Model and Laboratory for Earth's Environment2018Other (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
    Abstract [en]

    The idea of a sealed habitable sphere has and continues to inform how life itself is understood. Tracing the historical roots of the miniature modeling of regenerative life systems and ecologies, historian of science Sabine Höhler encapsulates the varied technoscientific motives and consequences of experimenting with self-contained ecospheres and how they relate to the concept of life on Earth.

  • 13.
    Höhler, Sabine
    Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Edens, Arks and Spaceships: Visions of Whole Earth since the Environmental Revolution2015Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 14.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science and Technology.
    Exterritoriale Ressourcen: Die Diskussion um die Meere, die Pole und das Weltall um 19702012Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [de]

    Als Garrett Hardin 1968 die Allmende als ein rückwärtsgewandtes Konzept verabschiedete und neue Formen der Allokation der globalen Güter („commons“) einforderte, legte er wie viele seiner Zeitgenossen im Streit über die Zukunft der Menschheit eine biologistische These des Kampfes rational handelnder egoistischer Individuen um endliche irdische Ressourcen zugrunde. Vor dem Hintergrund seiner zutiefst westlichen Sichtweise, die kollektive Formen der Güterbewirtschaftung ablehnte, diskutiert der Beitrag die internationale Kontroverse um die Vergemeinschaftung exterritorialer Gebiete um 1970. Als exterritorial galten jene terrestrischen und extraterrestrischen Gegenden, die als Expansionsräume und Rohstofflager geostrategisch an Aufmerksamkeit gewannen, aber weder territorial ausgewiesen noch national zugewiesen waren: die Meere, die Polargebiete und das Weltall. Im internationalen Rennen um Raum versprach ihre Aneignung militärische, wissenschaftlich-technische und ökonomische Vormacht. Der Beitrag geht den zeitgenössischen Fragen ihrer zukünftigen Verwaltung nach und arbeitet die Konflikte zwischen vorherrschenden nationalen Besitzansprüchen und neuen Vorstellungen über die Ressourcen der Erde als gemeinsam bewirtschaftetes Erbe der Menschheit heraus. Die Aufgabe der internationalen Vermittlung fiel an die Vereinten Nationen als staatenübergreifendes legislatives Rahmenwerk. Das entstehende Regime der Raumordnung verdeutlicht die Spannungen zwischen den Prinzipien der Territorialität und der Globalität sowie die Machtgefälle im Diskurs der Globalisierung.

  • 15.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science and Technology (name changed 20120201).
    Exterritoriale Ressourcen: Die Diskussion um die Tiefsee, die Pole und das Weltall um 19702014In: Jahrbuch für Europäische Geschichte, ISSN 1616-6485, Vol. 15, p. 53-82Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The chapter explores how in the Cold War period large terrestrial and extraterrestrial regions came into focus as sites of strategic importance, areas of expansion or valuable resources: the deep sea, the polar regions and outer space. While the modern world since the 19th century had been subjected to extensive processes of imperial expansion and territorialization, these regions had escaped sovereign rule; they entered international debate when technology made national claims viable. The chapter studies political ambitions to set up new political and legal regimes of access. It discusses the contested concept of global commons and its legal equivalent, the Common Heritage of Mankind principle, and argues that seemingly opposing concepts of territorialization and communalization were closely related. The commons-regimes of the 1970s, so the suggestion, need to be reinterpreted as a double-edged sword, which failed to introduce a feasible common-based regime and did not overcome but reinforced the earth's spatial organization in terms of territory and sovereignty.

  • 16.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    From Biodiversity to Biodiversification: A New Economy of Nature?2014In: Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte, ISSN 0170-6233, E-ISSN 1522-2365, Vol. 37, no 1, p. 60-77Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper explores the relations between economy and ecology in the last quarter of the 20th century with the example of biodiversity. From its definition in the 1980s, the concept of biodiversity responded not only to conservational concerns but also to hopes and demands of economic profitability. The paper argues that archival systems of inventorying and surveying nature, the biodiversity database and the biodiversity portfolio, changed the view on nature from a resource to an investment. The paper studies. the alliances of ecologists and environmental economists in managing nature according to economic principles of successful asset management, "diversification", with the aim to distribute risk, minimize ecological loss and maximize overall ecosystem performance. Finally, the paper discusses the assumptions and the consequences of transferring principles from financial risk management to landscape management. How has the substitution of the existential values of nature by shareholder value affected the relations between ecology, environment, and ecosystem conservation? Who gains and who looses in exchanging natural capital and financial capital, yields, and profits?

  • 17.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    From Biodiversity to Biodiversification: The New Economy of Nature2013Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 18.
    Höhler, Sabine
    Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    From Exceptional to Periodic: Southern Oscillation Satellite Data between Climate Change and Predictability2015Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    El Niño denotes a periodical warm water stream in the Pacific Ocean. But who knew about this phenomenon, where, how, and to what avail? El Niño “the boy” emerged as a fabric of local stories of origin and experiences of extreme weather events: tropical winter storms, floods and droughts, dying fish populations, poor harvests and famines in the coastal states of South America, Indonesia and Asia. The rich cultural history on the regional scale went largely unnoticed in the Northern Hemisphere. Only in the 1980s and 1990s did El Niño acquire global recognition as a part of the oceanic and atmospheric temperature cycles in the eastern tropical Pacific region. As the oceans moved from a marginal to a central position in the discourse on the earth’s environment and biospheric cycles, ENSO – the El Niño Southern Oscillation – became a major reference in rising world ocean temperature curves and an indicator of global climate change.

     

    This paper explores the epistemic, economic and political rationalities that constituted the transition of the El Niño phenomenon from a local explanandum to an explanans of global climate change. Satellite oceanography will be addressed as the critical technoscientific practice effecting this transition. As satellites reconnected space politics to geopolitics they became an obligatory passage point in the configuration of legitimate research questions and results of earth observation. While records of the El Niño phenomenon go back to the 18th century, the single observations from ships did not connect to synoptic pictures in immediate ways. Satellite measurements in contrast outbalanced problematic “top skin” data by breadth of areal coverage. Through satellite oceanographic data, sporadic, elusive and disruptive weather events became climatic periods of high intensity, succession and duration. The paper looks at the practice of high-resolution sea surface temperature measurements that since the 1990s solicited new views on the oceanic-atmospheric climate cycle. Both spatially and temporally, El Niño shifted from anomaly to normality. As a regular world climate engine the Southern Oscillation combined the exceptional with the periodic, inviting images both of climate catastrophe and of climate predictability.

  • 19.
    Höhler, Sabine
    Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    From Extreme Experience to Climate Engine: The Satellite Story of El Niño2015Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In the 1980s and 1990s a local weather phenomenon called El Niño acquired global fame as a part of the Southern Oscillation, the umbrella term for oceanic and atmospheric temperature cycles in the eastern tropical Pacific region. Today, El Niño is the reference and indicator of global climate change. This paper explores satellite oceanography as a critical science and technology in the process of turning El Niño from a local explanandum to an explanans of global environmental change. Satellite high-resolution infrared sea surface temperature measurements established new knowledge about the oceanic-atmospheric climate cycle, spatially and temporally, since the 1990s. In the practice of outbalancing problematic “top skin” data by breadth of areal coverage a synoptic picture emerged. El Niño no longer signified the sporadic, elusive and disruptive event but the regular world climate engine. The phenomenon changed from an anomaly to a normality that also gave rise to probing climate predictability.

  • 20.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    From Life to Life Support: Ecotechnological Futures in Space2014Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    During the Environmental Era of the 1960s and 1970s, visions of ecologically balanced worlds stimulated high hopes. Systems stability and equilibrium became key concepts. Particularly prominent was the vision of creating closed self-sustained ecological life support systems. The space capsule provided the blueprint to experiment with materially closed cycles. The paper will explore how at the intersection of space research and ecology “life” was transformed to “survival” based on “life support”. Holistic and selective views on life support systems will be discussed that merged sufficiency and efficiency solutions to environmental sustainability. The paper argues that the minimalist principle of survival collapsed images of recreation and creation, of paradisiacal pasts and ecotechnological futures.

  • 21.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Inventorier la Terre2015In: Modernité et globalisation / [ed] Kapil Raj, H. Otto Sibum, Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2015, p. 167-181Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 22.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science and Technology.
    Kommentar: Nachhaltigkeitsforschung und Geschlechterforschung: Parallele Welten?2013In: Geschlechterverhältnisse und Nachhaltigkeit: Die Kategorie Geschlecht in den Nachhaltigkeitswissenschaften / [ed] Sabine Hofmeister, Christine Katz, Tanja Mölders, Opladen: Verlag Barbara Budrich, 2013, 1, p. 169-174Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 23.
    Höhler, Sabine
    Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Local Disruption, Global Condition: El Niño as Weather and as Climate Phenomenon2016Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    El Niño denotes a periodical warm water stream in the Pacific Ocean. But who knew about this phenomenon, where and how? El Niño “the boy” emerged as a fabric of local experiences and stories of extreme weather events: tropical winter storms, floods, droughts and famines in the coastal states of South America, Indonesia and Asia. This rich cultural history went largely unnoticed in the Northern Hemisphere. Only in the 1980s and 1990s did El Niño acquire global recognition as an effect of the oceanic and atmospheric currents in the tropical Pacific region. As the oceans moved from a marginal to a central position in the discourse on the earth’s climate cycles, ENSO – the El Niño Southern Oscillation – became an indicator of global climate change.

     

    This paper explores El Niño “the boy” and ENSO El Niño Southern Oscillation as juxtaposed and superposed environmental experiences. While El Niño the boy conveyed catastrophic experiences on the human scale, ENSO became known through terrific scientific views of earth from space. The paper will study satellite oceanography as a practice of concentrating distanced local events into new data fabrics. The case of the US-French orbital remote sensing satellite mission of TOPEX/Poseidon during the El Niño winter of 1997-98 demonstrates that science did not prevent catastrophic events; it removed the catastrophic from the new picture of regularity. From the data sets of remote sensing satellites, recurring local disruptions emerged as a periodic global climate condition. In this picture El Niño became the anomaly, a part of climate pattern with potential predictability.

     

  • 24.
    Höhler, Sabine
    Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Local Disruption or Global Condition?: El Niño as Weather and as Climate Phenomenon2017In: GEO Geography and Environment, ISSN 2054-4049, Vol. 4, no 1, p. 1-11, article id e00034Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    El Niño denotes a periodical warm water stream in the Pacific Ocean. But who knew about this phenomenon, where and how? El Niño ‘the boy’ emerged as a fabric of local experiences and stories of extreme weather events: tropical winter storms, floods, droughts and famines in the coastal states of South America, Indonesia and Southeast Asia. In the Northern Hemisphere this rich cultural history went largely unnoticed. Only in the 1980s and 1990s did El Niño acquire global recognition as an effect of the oceanic and atmospheric currents in the tropical Pacific region. As the oceans moved from a marginal to a central position in the discourse on the Earth’s climate cycles, ENSO – the ‘El Niño Southern Oscillation’ – became part of a global climate pattern. This paper explores El Niño ‘the boy’ and ENSO El Niño Southern Oscillation as juxtaposed and superposed environmental perceptions. While El Niño the boy conveyed horrific weather experiences on the human scale, ENSO became known through terrific scientific views of Earth from space. Earth observation by remote sensing satellites collected vast arrays of local measurements into new data fabrics. Studying the case of the US–French orbital satellite mission of TOPEX/Poseidon, this paper examines both the imagery from satellite data and the forecasting effortspreceding the strong El Niño winter of 1997–8. From the data and image sets of remote sensing satellites, recurring local disruptions emerged as a periodic global climate condition. Local experiences of El Niño and scientific perceptions of ENSO as a global climate cycle did not translate easily into each other. The paper discusses some of the epistemological tensions across spatial scales. While El Niño’s shift from exception to regularity fed into the framing of ‘climate change’ as a global disaster, the emerging ENSO regime obscured disaster locally.

  • 25.
    Höhler, Sabine
    Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Local Disruption or Global Condition?: Satellite Stories of El Niño2016Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 26.
    Höhler, Sabine
    Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Local Disruption or Global Condition?: The Satellite View of El Niño2016Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 27.
    Höhler, Sabine
    Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Local Weather Event, Global Climate Condition: Satellite Translations of El Niño2016Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    El Niño denotes a periodical warm water stream in the Pacific Ocean. But who knew about this phenomenon, where and how? El Niño “the boy” emerged as a fabric of local experiences and stories of extreme weather events: tropical winter storms, floods, droughts and famines in the coastal states of South America, Indonesia and Asia. In the 1980s and 1990s El Niño acquired global recognition as an effect of the oceanic and atmospheric currents in the tropical Pacific region. As the oceans moved from a marginal to a central position in the discourse on the earth’s climate cycles, ENSO – the El Niño Southern Oscillation – became an indicator of global climate change.

     

    This paper asks how satellite data and satellite images have mediated between El Niño as a local disruptive weather event and ENSO as global climate pattern. While El Niño “the boy” conveyed environmental experiences on the human scale, ENSO El Niño Southern Oscillation was studied and narrated through distant satellite views of earth from space. The science and technology of satellite oceanography concentrated distanced local events into new data fabrics. The paper will take the case study of the US-French orbital remote sensing satellite mission of TOPEX/Poseidon during the El Niño winter of 1997-98 to argue that the science and technology of observing and mapping the El Niño phenomenon did not prevent catastrophic events; instead science and technology removed the catastrophic from the new picture of regularity. From the data sets of remote sensing satellites, recurring local disruptions emerged as a periodic climate condition. El Niño became part of a global climate pattern with potential predictability.

  • 28.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Managing Nature's Portfolio: Risk, Diversity and Performance in the New Ecosystem Economy2013Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper approaches a recent strategy to reconcile economy and ecology. System ecologists and environmental economists alike have proposed to manage nature according to a principle of successful asset management – diversification – in order to distribute risk, minimize ecological losses and maximize overall ecosystem performance. In the paper I will first address the definition of biodiversity in the 1980s as responding not only to conservational concerns but also to demands of economic efficiency and profitability. Second, I will explore how natural diversity was conceptualized in the terms of the portfolio and how portfolio selection theory has been applied to landscape management. Finally, I will discuss some of the assumptions and consequences of transferring principles from financial risk management to ecosystem conservation: What does it mean to merge natural and financial capital, yields and profits? Who gains and who looses from replacing existential values of nature by shareholder values?

  • 29.
    Höhler, Sabine
    Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Myths of Spatial Conquest: Air and Sea Between Obscurity and Enlightenment2015In: Myths, Gender and the Military Conquest of Air and Sea / [ed] Katharina Hoffmann, Herbert Mehrtens, Silke Wenk, Oldenburg: BIS Oldenburg, 2015, p. 113-129Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 30.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Natur als Dienstleisterin: Zur ökologischen Flexibilisierung um 19702013Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 31.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Rebuilding Spaceship Earth: Sufficiency and Efficiency in the Quest for Environmental Sustainability2013Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In 1966, in the midst of Cold War anxiety, the British economist and political scientist Barbara Ward took up the image of the earth as seen from outer space to describe the delicate political situation of the world: “Modern science and technology have created so close a network of communication, transport, economic interdependence – and potential nuclear destruction – that planet earth, on its journey through infinity, has acquired the intimacy, the fellowship, and the vulnerability of a spaceship.” The spaceship reconciled a number of divergent visions of future earth. Next to presenting a ‘one-boat’ image of humankind, of community and balance of power, the spaceship became a model for sustainable environmental management. At a time of rising environmental consciousness the spaceship combined sufficiency and efficiency ideals of environmental sustainability. While advocates of sufficiency stressed the need for stability through careful resource use and complete material recycling, promoters of efficiency built on development and growth through proficient technological design. Both visions borrowed from the Space Age imagery and the ecologically sufficient and technologically efficient space capsule.

    Against this background the paper explores the intersections of space technology and ecological research in the decades between 1960 and 1990 with a focus on the design of closed metabolic systems. The paper compares two projects in which the earthly biosphere was experimentalized in the form of self-contained and self-maintained “life-support systems” that could be operated on earth and beyond. Both projects inserted humans into these short-circuited supply systems, for “long-range survival”, as system ecologist Howard Odum claimed in 1971. BIOS 3 (USSR, 1960s-1970s) conceptualized human life as biotic mass. In a closed habitat human elements and chlorella algae entered a symbiotic relationship to maintain a viable atmosphere. Biosphere 2 (USA, 1980s-1990s) technologically recreated the major biospheric cycles of the earth on a miniature scale, complete with cycles of soil, air, mineral, water and waste. The figure of the spaceship, so the paper argues, united divergent visions for environmental sustainability through merging subsistence and innovation-based economies. Both projects reconsidered humans’ place in nature in different yet related ways, as part of the earth’s life cycles and as top of and in control of its food chains.

  • 32.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Resilienz2016In: Wörterbuch Klimadebatte / [ed] Sybille Bauriedl, Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2016, p. 261-267Chapter in book (Other academic)
    Abstract [de]

    Resilienz bedeutet Flexibilität, Widerstandsfähigkeit und Anpassungsvermögen. In der Debatte um globale Klima- und Umweltveränderungen erlaubt es das Konzept der Resilienz, soziale, technische und ökologische Katastrophen nicht als vermeidbare gesellschaftliche Probleme aufzufassen, sondern als Chancen, als Generatoren des sozial-ökologischen Wandels umzudeuten.

  • 33.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Resilienz: Mensch – Umwelt – System. Eine Geschichte der Stressbewältigung von der Erholung zur Selbstoptimierung2014In: Zeithistorische Forschungen, ISSN 1612-6033, E-ISSN 1612-6041, Vol. 11, no 3, p. 425-443Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In the 1970s, resilience appeared as a way of describing the ability of a system to respond flexibly to stresses. Instead of following the linear ideal of recovery, the resilient system would reorganise. The concepts of stress and resilience emerged in the material sciences in the early 19th century and found their way into psychology and ecology in the 20th century. The article sketches the development of the ideal of the multi-stable system that can cope with incalculable and discontinuous changes. Following the history of fracture mechanics in the 19th century, of trauma research in the 1950s and of stress ecology in the 1970s, the paper traces how stress and resilience became systemic concepts that embraced quantities as diverse as human personality and the physical environment. Special attention is paid to the concept of anticipated failure. Whether human being, technology or environment – system failure became the condition for the self-optimisation of the system that would emerge stronger from crises and catastrophes. Collapse was no longer seen as a problem undermining the modern identity but as the engine of evolution.

  • 34.
    Höhler, Sabine
    Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Review of Macekura, Stephen J., Of Limits and Growth: The Rise of Global Sustainable Development in the Twentieth Century2016In: H-Soz-u-Kult, H-Net ReviewsArticle, book review (Other academic)
  • 35.
    Höhler, Sabine
    Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Review of Maria Paula Diogo and Dirk van Laak: Europeans Globalizing: Mapping, Exploiting, Exchanging. Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2016.2018In: NPL Neue Politische Literatur. Berichte aus Geschichts- und Politikwissenschaften, ISSN 0028-3320, Vol. 63, no 1, p. 70-72Article, book review (Other academic)
  • 36.
    Höhler, Sabine
    Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Smart, Compact, Sustainable?: Challenging the Techno-Ecological Model City as a Global Solution for Urban Sustainability2016Conference paper (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
  • 37.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science and Technology.
    Spaceship Earth: Envisioning Human Habitats in the Environmental Age, 1960-19902012Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper explores how the figure of Spaceship Earth formatted the global environmental discourse in the late twentieth century. In a time of rising environmental consciousness, the spaceship, like the ark, held out the hope of preserving life and nature in scientifically managed natural-technological environments on earth and beyond. I will discuss how systems ecology, human ecology, and biosphere technology turned the earth into a complex and self-contained circulatory system with limited capacity, and the earthly biosphere into a life-support system.

  • 38.
    Höhler, Sabine
    Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Spaceship Earth in the Environmental Age, 1960-19902015Book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    "Spaceship Earth" was a key metaphor in the late twentieth-century debate over the world’s resources and the future of humankind. This idea of the earth as a vessel in space came of age in an era shaped by space travel and the Cold War. Höhler’s study innovatively brings together technology, science and ecology to explore the way this latter-day ark was invoked by politicians, environmentalists, cultural historians, writers of science fiction and many others across three decades.

  • 39.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    "Spaceship Earth": Sufficiency and Efficiency Ideals Prior to the Sustainability Debate2014Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper sketches research on Spaceship Earth as a figure that reconciled divergent Western visions of future earth in the Cold War period. Like the ark and the lifeboat, the spaceship presented a ‘one-boat’ image of humanity, fragile community, limited resources and the need for a balance of power. At the same time, Spaceship Earth drew on Space Age visions of creating ecologically sufficient and technologically efficient life support systems. The spaceship became a blueprint for managing the earth in a sustainable fashion. This 'proto-sustainability' combined holistic and cybernetic ideals of earth management, and it informed the program of Sustainable Development formulated in the 1980s by promoting not only economic and ecological stability through resource conservation and material recycling but also ecological modernization and economic growth through proficient scientific-technological design.

  • 40.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science and Technology.
    Stress und Resilienz der Ökosysteme. Konzepte einer Dienstleistungsökologie seit den 1970er Jahren2012Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 41.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Stress und Resilienz: Modelle der Leidens- und Leistungsfähigkeit um 1970 zwischen Erholung und Selbstoptimierung2013Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 42.
    Höhler, Sabine
    Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Survival: Mars Fiction and Experiments with Life on Earth2017In: Environmental Philosophy, ISSN 1718-0918Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper explores examples of Mars fiction of “terraforming”—of creating Earth-like environments in space—against the background of the Earth’s environmental degradation and restoration. Visions of Mars settlement offered an escape route for a threatened humanity and a blueprint for the eco-technological recreation of the Earth’s environment. This paper aims to outline the Anthropocene as an epoch that not only compromised the Earth but also essentially transformed the understanding of Earthly life to a minimalist principle of survival through infinite metabolic conversions. This understanding of immortality conjoined images of recreation and creation, of paradisiacal pasts and eco-technological futures.

  • 43.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science and Technology.
    Taking Stock of the Earth2012Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 44.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    'The Real Problem of a Spaceship Is Its People': Spaceship Earth as Ecological Science Fiction2014In: Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction / [ed] Gerry Canavan, Kim Stanley Robinson, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Presss, 2014, p. 99-114Chapter in book (Refereed)
  • 45.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    The World Oceans: The Science and Fiction of the Inexhaustible in the Times of New Limits to Growth2014In: Geschichte und Gesellschaft, ISSN 0340-613X, E-ISSN 2196-9000, Vol. 40, no 3, p. 437-451Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In the 1970s the world's oceans were not just another resource to be developed, they were imagined as a place of inexhaustible supply, an unlimited reservoir of proteins, mineral resources and human living space, supplementing the exploited landmasses. This article argues that the sciences, technologies and politics of ocean exploration promoted the image of the earth's biotic and abiotic matter as convertible and replaceable in perfect metabolic cycles. Human matter, the earth's only excess living resource, was seen as feeding directly into these global supply chains and recycling systems. The eco-technological reorganization of the earth's environment,, based on biomass as the communal unit, opened the oceans up as a new dimension in the global economy and ecology of flows.

  • 46.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science and Technology.
    Thomas Robertson, The Malthusian Moment: Global Population Growth and the Birth of American Environmentalism2013In: H-Environment Roundtable Review, Vol. 3, no 3Article, book review (Other academic)
  • 47.
    Höhler, Sabine
    Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Top Skin Data and Model Images: El Niño as Seen by Satellite Oceanography2015Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 48.
    Höhler, Sabine
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    "Total Life Support": Systems Stability and Visions of Sustainability in Space2014Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In the Cold War era of extremes, systems stability and equilibrium became key concepts. Visions of politically and ecologically balanced worlds stimulated high hopes in works of science and in works of science fiction. Particularly prominent was the vision to create a self-sustaining system, on the small scale of closed artificial life support systems and ultimately on the scale of an entire planet. Space research provided the experimental setup to link these scales. The space capsule, a high-tech minimized and an optimized vehicle, brought together subsistence-based and innovation-based solutions. The space capsule merged sufficiency and efficiency visions of environmental sustainability.

    This paper explores the intersections of space technology and ecological research by studying three projects of experimentalizing the earth’s life cycles in the form of self-contained and self-maintained metabolic systems to be operated on earth and beyond. The first project is the experiment of terraforming Mars described in the film Red Planet (2000). The second is the BIOS (USSR, 1960s-1970s) project that conceptualized human life as biotic mass. In a closed habitat human elements and algae entered a symbiotic relationship to maintain a viable atmosphere. Finally, the project of Biosphere 2 (USA, 1980s-1990s) technologically recreated the major biospheric cycles of the earth on a miniature scale, complete with cycles of soil, air, mineral, water and waste. All these projects inserted humans into short-circuited supply systems for long-range survival. They reconsidered humans’ place in nature in different but related ways, as part of the earth’s life cycles and as top of and in control of its food chains.

  • 49.
    Höhler, Sabine
    Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Turning Point oder Tipping Point?: Die Zwei-Grad-Grenze im Klimadiskurs2016Conference paper (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
  • 50.
    Höhler, Sabine
    Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Two Degrees: A Global Climate Accord and its Disparities2016Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In the discourse of global climate change the figure two (2) plays a prominent role. When the Copenhagen Accord anchored the two-degree-goal in 2009 the figure became a powerful target guiding international climate politics and a publicly comprehensible symbol of urgency. Based on scientific conjectures of planetary boundaries the figure quantifies the objective to limit the average global temperature increase to two degrees Celsius compared to the pre-Industrial Era. Although the figure continues to be contested it continues to mark the space for humanity that is safe to operate in, maintaining present ecological and social conditions on Earth.

     

    The two-degree-goal’s most attractive aspect is also its most problematic: a single numeral gathers ecological thresholds and political ambitions. This paper explores the promises and shortcomings of consigning an aggregated number to describe a temporally and spatially complex condition. It will do so by focusing on two paradoxes in the construction of the global target. First, the global average does not disperse into the diversity of local specificities. The figure two quantifies climate change on the global scale; by definition it cannot be experienced locally. The paper will discuss how the focus on temperature increase in aggregate diverts from the inequalities of causes and effects of climate change. The figure may be global in its scientific and political reach but is by no means universal in its impact. Secondly, the political guide value and the scientific threshold value do not necessarily correspond. While the guide value marks a political turning point the threshold value marks an ecological tipping point at which climate change may become uncontrollable. Two points, two futures: one relying on nature’s ‘elasticity’, the other experimenting with ‘overshooting’ the limits, suggesting a set of options among which stability is only one, and possibly not the most desirable route. The paper will discuss the two-degree-goal as putting the readiness for uncertainty and flexibility to the test on the scale of global humanity by counting on the adaptive abilities of a global system that lacks local correspondence.

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