Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society

Dear Subscribers,

GAIA - Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society 2/2017 has just been released. A Special Focus of the latest issue is the Project of the Century: Nuclear Waste Disposal - ten articles covering a wide range of scientific-technical, societal and ethical perspectives on the search for a final disposal site in Germany. In addition, the issue features, amongst others, a call for Coastal Transformations in light of rising global sea levels, and Palm Oil Production in Brazil, the winning entry of the 2016 GAIA Masters Student Paper Award.

We would also like to draw your attention to some news of our own: Starting now, all GAIA articles from 1992 onward will be assigned a DOI (digital object identifier). This ensures that all articles are uniquely and permanently retrievable on the Web. Since 2014, a DOI has been assigned to every GAIA article published. Over the last few months, DOIs have also been assigned to all archived articles (a total of 1,490 articles in 97 issues). We would like to take this opportunity to thank Ulrich Müller-Herold for his financial support of this effort.

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

Exclusively online: eight toolkits - one document

The Toolkits for Transdisciplinarity series highlights existing compilations of methods useful for transdisciplinary research. This popular series expands the repertoire of methods available to transdisciplinary researchers by introducing them to previously unfamiliar methods. You can find a flyer with the eight toolkits - published between mid-2015 and mid-2017 in GAIAhere > 

We invite article submissions related to inter- or transdisciplinary environmental and sustainability research. For further information click here >

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Alte und neue Kämpfe ums Gentechnikrecht >
Old and New Struggles with Genetic Engineering Regulation
reading sample >
Gerd Winter

Toolkits for Transdisciplinarity #8 Integration Methods > (open access)
Gabriele Bammer

Macht und Theorie. Wie Macht erforschen? >
Power and Theory. How Do We Research Power?
Philipp Altmann

Die Rohstoffversorgung für die Energiewende: Nicht nur auf technologische Lösungen setzen! >
Resources for the Energy Transition: It's Not just about Technology
Martin David, Magdalena Wallkamm, Alena Bleicher

In the face of the energy transition, the demand is rising for rare materials for renewable energy technologies. Most discussion is focused on primarily technological solutions to providing copper, cobalt or rare earth elements, such as recycling or the exploration of new repositories. This has been demonstrated in the study Rare Materials for the Energy Provision of the Future. Yet societal aspects determining sustainability, such as the interest of local stakeholders, are barely discussed.

Facing the Third Dimension in Coastal Flatlands. Global Sea Level Rise and the Need for Coastal Transformations >
Karsten Reise

Owing to global warming, imminent losses at polar ice sheets will entail several meters of highly unpredictable sea level rise. Merely carrying on with bulwarks for defense against a rising sea will exacerbate the fate of coastal flatlands such as the subsiding North Sea Wadden Coast. The mighty dimension of the rising sea requires debates on a wider conceptual horizon. It is time to initiate stepwise coastal transformations toward growing with a rising sea.



Jahrhundertprojekt Endlagerung
(open access)
Project of the Century: Nuclear Waste Disposal
Achim Brunnengräber

Germany, as well as other places around the world, is lacking a repository for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste arising from the operation of nuclear power plants. Nuclear power plants, therefore, continue to generate power despite the final disposal question having not yet been properly resolved. This interdisciplinary GAIA-focus will explore how recent political developments, especially emerging from the work of the German commission on the final disposal of high-level radioactive waste (Endlager-Kommission), will affect the search for a final disposal site in Germany. What challenges do we face? What obstacles must be overcome in order for all high-level radioactive waste to be stored in as secure a manner as possible?

Nuclear Waste in the Anthropocene. Uncertainties and Unforeseeable Timescales in the Disposal of Nuclear Waste > (open access)
Achim Brunnengräber, Christoph Görg

Nicht von meiner Welt. Zukunftsverantwortung bei der Endlagerung von radioaktiven Reststoffen > (open access)
Not from My World. Responsibility for Future Generations in the Final Disposal of Nuclear Waste
Konrad Ott, Franziska Semper

Primat der Sicherheit. Ja, aber welche Sicherheit ist gemeint? > (open access)
Safety First. Yes, But Which Safety?
Klaus-Jürgen Röhlig, Anne Eckhardt

Wie viel Strahlendosis für wen? Lange Lagerung, Offenhaltung und ein langer Entsorgungsprozess bedeuten zusätzliche Dosis für Beschäftigte > (open access)
How Much Radiation Dose, to Whom? Long-term Storage, Surveillance, Retrieval and Long Processes Cause Additional Dose to Employees
Clemens Walther, Moritz Riemann

Auf dem Weg in die Endlagerung. Die Notwendigkeit der langfristigen Zwischenlagerung hoch radioaktiver Abfälle > (open access)
On the Pathway Towards Disposal. The Need for Long-term Interim Storage of High-level Nuclear Waste
Harald Budelmann, Maria Rosaria Di Nucci, Ana María Isidoro Losada, Dennis Köhnke, Manuel Reichardt

Einschluss oder Zugriff. Tiefenlagerung ohne oder mit Vorkehrungen zur Rückholbarkeit > (open access)
Containment or Accessibility. Deep Disposal with or without Retrievability Measures
Klaus-Jürgen Röhlig, Daniel Häfner, Karl-Heinz Lux, Thomas Hassel, Joachim Stahlmann

Wer soll die Zeche zahlen? Diskussion alternativer Organisationsmodelle zur Finanzierung von Rückbau und Endlagerung > (open access)
Who Should Foot the Bill? A Discussion of Alternative Organizational Models to Finance Dismantling and Radioactive Waste Disposal
Elisabeth Jänsch, Achim Brunnengräber, Christian von Hirschhausen, Christian Möckel

Bürger(innen) auf Standortsuche. Erwartungen in Deutschland, Erfahrungen aus der Schweiz > (open access)
Citizens in Search of a Nuclear Waste Disposal Site. Expectations in Germany, Experiences from Switzerland
Cord Drögemüller, Sophie Kuppler

Robust-parlamentarisch oder informell-partizipativ? Die Tücken der Entscheidungsfindung in komplexen Verfahren > (open access)
Robust and Parliamentary or Informal and Participative? The Pitfalls of Decision-making Processes in Complex Procedures
Peter Hocke, Ulrich Smeddinck


Sustainable Palm Oil? Insights from Material Flow and Land Use Analysis in Brazil's Production Hotspot
(open access)
Charlotte Kottusch, Anke Schaffartzik

Negative impacts of plantation agriculture were widely recognized when the expansion of palm oil production began in Brazil. In 2010, President Lula da Silva initiated a program to foster socially and environmentally sustainable palm oil production. Our research in Brazil's palm oil production hotspot Tomé-Açu, Pará, leads us to question the success of this program. Based on data-driven analysis of material and land use and qualitative field research, we reveal unsustainable biophysical patterns and drivers of plantation expansion. In particular, we identify functional links between deforestation, pursuant use of land for cattle ranching, and (perceived) availability of plantation land. By considering the direct and indirect material and land use effects of palm oil production, we find that deforestation sustainability programs seek to avoid remains a prerequisite to plantation expansion. Material and land use patterns shape not only the biophysical but also the economic basis of rural livelihoods with implications for the environmental and the social sustainability of any further expansion of palm oil production.

Terra preta de índio: Commodification and Mythification of the Amazonien Dark Earths >
Jens Soentgen, Klaus Hilbert, Carolin von Groote-Bidlingmaier, Gabriele Herzog-Schröder, Eije Erich Pabst, Sabine Timpf

This paper contributes to the history of terra preta research. It traces not only the history of science of Amazonian Dark Earths (terra preta de índio) but the history of knowledge of terra preta taking explicitly into account indigenous contributions. Five major phases are distinguished. In the beginning knowledge on terra preta was local indigenous knowledge. The scientific object "terra preta" was created in the context of archaeological research and has then been reframed as a carbon-sequestering soil in the context of the rising global warming debate in the early 1990s. This development led to a de-contextualization of terra preta and to commodification, giving rise to the biochar industry. Commodification included mythification of terra preta, stressing its ancient, prehistoric roots. Both processes - commodification and mythification - can also be found within the scientific sphere. This seems to indicate that not only terra preta has become a commodity, but that also research on terra preta shows signs of commodification.

Sozial-ökologische Forschung
Soziale Innovationen in der Sozial-ökologischen Forschung > (open access)
Social Innovation and Social-Ecological Research
Ralph Wilhelm, Thomas Schulz

MWK Baden-Württemberg
Maßnahmenevaluation im transdisziplinären Forschungssetting > (open access)
Evaluating Measures in a Transdisciplinary Research Setting
Sonja Geiger, Anja Hirscher, Martin Müller

Allianz Nachhaltige Universitäten in Österreich
Dialogkonferenzen der Allianz Nachhaltige Universitäten. Ein Beitrag zum sektorübergreifenden Nachhaltigkeitsdiskurs >
Dialogue Conferences of the Alliance of Sustainable Universities. A Contribution to the Cross-sectoral Sustainability Discourse
Valentina Aversano-Dearborn, Thomas Lindenthal, Lisa Bohunovsky

Potenziale der Fachhochschulen für die Schweizer Umwelt- und Nachhaltigkeitsforschung >
Recognizing the Value of Universities of Applied Sciences for Environmental and Sustainability Research in Switzerland
Christoph Kueffer, Vicente Carabias, Andreas Schneider, Dominik Siegrist

Orientierungswissen für die Energiewende. Der Roadsmap-und-Navigation-Ansatz > (open access)
Providing Orientation for the Energy Transition: The Roadsmap-and-Navigation Approach
Dirk Scheer, Armin Grunwald

Was kosten uns Lebensmittel wirklich? Ansätze zur Internalisierung externer Effekte der Landwirtschaft am Beispiel Stickstoff >
What's the True Cost of Our Food? Internalizing the External Effects of German Agriculture through the Example of Nitrogen
Tobias Gaugler, Amelie Michalke

Das Wirken von Nachhaltigkeitsräten in Politik und Gesellschaft >
Sustainable Development Councils and Their Political and Social Impact
Annelie Sieveking

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