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Food, Energy, and the Sociogenesis of Climate Change

Professor Mark Harvey, University of Essex
Tuesday 18th March 2014 - 5:30pm
Glamorgan Building Committee Rooms

Event hosted by the Innovation and Engagement Unit

The world faces historically unprecedented challenges, and so also do the social sciences. The generation of climate change needs to be understood much more in terms of how different societies and political economies have taken different strategic directions, driving or mitigating climate change in distinctive ways. We need to think ‘sociogenic’, rather than ‘anthropogenic’, climate change. Likewise, although some social sciences have long considered the interaction between political economies and the natural world with its finite resources (fossil fuel, land, water, and numerous minerals, for example) in limited ways, the 21st century demands a more holistic and integrated approach to the interaction between particular political economies, the environments where they are situated, and the natural resources to which they have access.

This lecture will focus on the huge and widely underestimated risks of climate change arising from global developments of agriculture in meeting the need to feed a population of 9 billion with a changing demands and standards for food. It will hope to show how this is linked to the search for renewable energy, especially in a new competition for land. To illustrate the argument, the lecture will take the case of Brazil, to demonstrate the historical emergence of sustainability crises, and the interactions between a political economy and its natural environment, resource constraints and endowments.