Sabine Höhler: "Live and Environment ex natura"

  • Date: –15:00
  • Location: Engelska parken - The Rausing Room
  • Organiser: Department of History of Science and Ideas
  • Contact person: H. Otto Sibum
  • Seminarium

Office for History of Science Seminar

Sabine Höhler, KTH: "Live and Environment ex natura"

The idea of a self-contained and self-sustained living sphere has shaped the understanding of life and environment in the twentieth century across scales, from the glass aquarium to the terrestrial biosphere. The paper traces the history of such ecospheres since the mid-twentieth century. In the 1950s, ecologist LaMont C. Cole called the totality of the interdependent terrestrial ecosystems of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and surface strata of the lithosphere “ecosphere”. In the 1960s, microbiologist Clair Folsome in Hawaii called his glass-filled microcosm of Pacific seawater and sediment “ecosphere”. Both macrocosm and microcosm represented self-similarity, symbiotic communities and endless loops of almost self-identical reproduction. The paper argues that such ecospheric systems, taken from nature and out of nature, have shaped our contemporary understanding of the environment.