Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society

Dear Subscribers,

GAIA – Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society 1/2016 has just been released. The latest issue features, amongst others, an analysis of the Paris Agreement under the headline Climate Change Drives Transformation, insights into the Varying Time Scales of the Anthropocene Debate – from day-by-day to overall Earth history, as well as reflections on the dominant Densification Discourse in Urban Development and the negative ecological implications for so-called urban wasteland.

We would like to thank authors, reviewers and board members for their contributions to our journal. We hope you will enjoy browsing through the table of contents below.

Your Editorial Team

Almut Joedicke, Ulrike Sehy, Tobias Mickler, Martina Blum


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Paris – und was nun? Auf dem Weg zu verbindlichen Klimaschutzzielen >
Paris – And Now What? A Roadmap for Binding Climate Policy
Ortwin Renn
reading sample >

Toolkits for Transdisciplinarity – Toolkit #3: Dialogue Methods for Knowledge Synthesis
(open access)
Gabriele Bammer

Zwischen Tagesgeschäft und Erdgeschichte. Die unterschiedlichen Zeitskalen in der Debatte um das Anthropozän > (open access)
From Daily Business to Earth History. The Varying Time Scales of the Anthropocene Debate
Christoph Görg

Humanity has entered a new phase in the dialectic of nature domination: the Anthropocene. It is increasingly evident that humans are less and less able to control the negative effects of the never-ending changes they are inflicting upon Nature. As illustrated by the discourse around the Anthropocene, the new challenge involves thinking in terms of various time scales – from the day-by-day to overall Earth history: On the one hand, action must be taken immediately to prevent the negative impacts of resource use. On the other hand, action must be considered in geological time when considering, for example, radioactive waste. Policymakers are not yet prepared to meet this challenge.

Shaping Change. Food Consumption Patterns and Reactive Nitrogen as a Policy Field in a Finite World >
Stefanie Jung, Jan Wiese, Heidi Foth, Manfred Niekisch

The excessive release of reactive nitrogen compounds into the environment is one of the biggest ecological problems of our time. The largest single source of nitrogen emissions is the agricultural sector, whereas livestock production chains are responsible for a high proportion of nitrogen losses. Changing meat consumption patterns is imperative for sustainable consumption. The topic polarises public opinion. We argue for the development of a mix of policy measures to promote environmentally compatible food consumption, with special emphasis on the (reduced) release of reactive nitrogen.

Climate Change as a Transformation Challenge. A New Climate Policy Paradigm?  >
Lukas Hermwille

The Paris Agreement marks a milestone in international climate policy. Though, the positive appraisal was not unanimous. This article will argue that the Paris Agreement embraces a new paradigm. Climate change is no longer seen as a clear-cut environmental problem, nor as a developmental issue, but as a challenge to fundamentally transform global societies. While criticism through the lens of the former paradigms is worthwhile, the Paris Agreement should be acknowledged as a pacemaker for the transformation processes that lay ahead of us.

"Transformation" as a New Critical Orthodoxy. The Strategic Use of the Term "Transformation" Does Not Prevent Multiple Crises   >(open access)
Ulrich Brand

"Transformation" is an umbrella term which places the ecological crisis in a broader context. To foster societal change, opinion leaders of the transformation debate are focusing on cooperation and learning, existing political, cultural and economic institutions, and trust in incremental change. However, these leaders are not questioning existing power relations. This bias may partly explain why social-ecological transformation has not yet occurred. A more analytical understanding of transformation can complement and correct some of these shortcomings in order to better understand the obstacles to policy change.

Carbon Pricing. Stiglitz' Distinct plus 100 US Dollar Proposal as Example for a Constructive and Promising Debate, Still Lacking Implementability and Acceptability >
Lutz Wicke

Carbon pricing would appear to be an adequate answer to the ineffectiveness of current global climate policy. A prominent example is the proposal of Joseph E. Stiglitz to put a substantial additional price on carbon. However, at this early developmental stage, carbon pricing cannot yet be put on the climate policy negotiating table. To foster implementation, scientists from the various disciplines must collaborate with innovative and independent experts who are very familiar with climate policy.

Wie regenerativ ist die Energiewende wirklich? Das Energiekonzept der Bundesregierung zwischen Aufbruch und nicht regenerativen Mustern >
How Regenerative Is the Energy Transition? The German Federal Government's Energy Concept: Between Renewal and Regenerational Neglect
Adelheid Biesecker, Uta von Winterfeld

To succeed in the energy transition, a new energy culture must be born in the world of politics, science and society. Currently, however, the aim of switching over to renewable energies is based primarily on technological and economic premises. From a sustainable and precautionary perspective, no concern is expressed – either for today's generation or for future generations – with regard to the regeneration capacity of the natural building blocks of life. Enabling society to deal responsibly with this topic is the task of policy makers.

Elektroautos: Top in Norwegen, Flop in Deutschland? Empfehlungen aus Sicht der Umweltpsychologie >
Electric Cars: Flourishing in Norway, Flopping in Germany? Suggestions from an Environmental Psychology Standpoint
Sebastian Bobeth, Ellen Matthies
reading sample >

Electric cars have the potential for contributing to more environmentally friendly mobility. Yet in Germany, despite ambitious governmental targets, the market share of electric cars remains minimal. Norway, on the other hand, is currently experiencing an electric car boom. We investigated what Germany, from a psychological perspective, could learn from Norway in order to achieve a higher market share of electric cars. We analyzed Norwegian studies that surveyed electric car users as well as users of conventional cars. The latter expressed concerns about the suitability of electric cars for everyday use. The same concerns were expressed in similar surveys of potential electric car buyers in Germany. In Norway, however, those concerns proved unfounded in actuality, as confirmed by actual electric car users. In the purchase decision-making process, financial incentives were not the sole aspect of consideration, as social influence, observability and knowledge also came into play. This study provides suggestions for governmental support strategies in Germany.

Im physikalischen Verdichtungslabor. Wie Sprache das Denken und Handeln im Siedlungsbau beeinflusst >
In the Densification Laboratory. How Language Affects Thought and Action in Urban Development
Hugo Caviola, Andreas Kläy, Hans Weiss

This article provides evidence from the Swiss context that the prevailing discourse of urban densification within the field of urban development is largely metaphorical in nature. It is dominated in particular by metaphors from the field of physics. As a result, aesthetic, social and ecological aspects are systematically downplayed or transformed into physical perspectives. Discourse analysis helps to make transparent diffuse fears of densification and the ecological deficits associated with densification policies. The article presents alternatives to physical framing and shows how reflecting on language can enrich sustainable urban development.

MWK Baden-Württemberg
Reallabore für nachhaltiges Wissen - Forschung für und mit Zukunft > (open access)
Real-world Laboratories for Sustainable Knowledge – The Future of Research and Research for the Future
Felix Wagner, Stephan Ertner

Sozial-ökologische Forschung
Wirkungsvolle transdisziplinäre Forschung. TransImpact untersucht transdisziplinäre Projekte > (open access)
Transdisciplinary Research that Becomes Effective. TransImpact Analyses Transdisciplinary Projects
Matthias Bergmann, Thomas Jahn, Alexandra Lux, Emilia Nagy, Martina Schäfer

Allianz Nachhaltige Universitäten in Österreich
Nachhaltigkeitskompetenzen in der Lehre an den Allianz-Universitäten >
Sustainability Competences and Methods to Teach Them at the Alliance Universities
Thomas Lindenthal, Lisa Bohunovsky

Eine große Transformation der Schweiz. Auf Bewährtes setzen und mit Neuem experimentieren >
A Great Transformation of Switzerland. Building on Past Achievements and Experimenting with New Ideas
Claudia Zingerli, Christoph Kueffer

Humanökologie und Ernährungsökologie. Konzeptionelle Allianzen und Synergien

Human Ecology and Nutrition Ecology. Conceptual Alliances and Synergies
Parto Teherani-Krönner, Jana Rückert-John

Helmholtz-Allianz ENERGY-TRANS
Nachhaltigkeitsindikatoren zur Bewertung des deutschen Energiesystems >
Sustainability Indicators for the Assessment of the German Energy System
Christine Rösch, Klaus-Rainer Bräutigam, Jürgen Kopfmüller, Patrick Lichtner, Volker Stelzer

Exploring Transition Research as Transformative Science. International Sustainability Transitions Conference 2016 >
Exploring Transition Research as Transformative Science. International Sustainability Transitions Conference 2016
Karoline Augenstein, Franziska Stelzer

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