Spring 2008

The Resilient Earth

Listed in: , as COLQ-22


Ethan D. Clotfelter (Section 01)
Jan E. Dizard (Section 01)


The Resilient (?) Earth: An Interdisciplinary Reflection on Contemporary Environmental Issues. Life has existed on Earth for nearly four billion years, shaped by massive extinction events. In the short span of the last 10,000 years, humans have become important agents in shaping global change. The question this colloquium will consider is straightforward: Have humans been modifying the environment in ways that will, in the not distant future, cause another worldwide extinction event? There are no simple, much less uncontested, answers to this question. We will have to consider the ways we have altered habitats and ecosystem processes. We will also consider the economic consequences of disturbed ecosystems and assess contemporary policy proposals that intend to avert what some claim is an impending catastrophe. Second semester. Professors Clotfelter and Dizard.