Climate change is not merely about the emission of greenhouse gases, rising temperatures, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and extreme climate events. Climate change is also intrinsically about temporality, time frames, timescales, pace and acceleration. Notions of the Anthropocene in general and of climate change in particular are characterized by a complex interplay between deep time and historical time as well as between the present and the future. In political speech, as well as in mass media and vernacular culture, there are two main timescales present in utterances on the climate changed future: our political present and the future of our children and grandchildren (family time), while the far future is merely an implicit aspect of the discourse.
This project will examine understandings of multiple temporalities in climate change discourses within vernacular culture, media culture and climate research. It will examine how relations between the past, the present the future are understood within these three fields. And it will examine how popular climate change discourses relate to scientific notions of time. The project will further examine how uses of examples mediate between the present and the future.
The project is motivated by the presumption that a better understanding of how we culturally relate the present to the future is a premise to succeed in a transition to a low-emission society. Such a transition may only happen if people have found productive ways of coordinating the present with the future, which also implies an understanding of the complex intertwining of deep time and historical time. Is it at all possible to relate to such a complex of temporalities, or does it work as cultural obstacles for the transition to a low-emission society? Hence, new knowledge about our notions of time and temporality will give possibilities for formulating a policy to get around such cultural obstacles.
The objectives are:
- To survey the temporal aspects of present climate change discourses.
- To place these temporal notions into a larger picture of a late modern regime of historicity.
- To survey how notions of temporality work as obstacles for or opportunities for strategies for coping with anthropogenic climate change.