chapter  13
22 Pages

Climate Catastrophism: The History of the Future of Climate

ByChange FRANZ MAUELSHAGEN

An impending climate catastrophe has been somewhat of a hot topic for a while now.* Not only politicians but also some scientists have warned against it,1 others have avoided the term ‘climate catastrophe,’ thinking of it as misleading, fear-mongering, and as an intellectual blunder. Scientifi c rationality leaves no room for fear. Scientists rarely refl ect on the perspectivity of their own objections, however, and even more rarely do they consider the societal implications of a public discourse about a climate catastrophe. This is hardly surprising, considering the social habitus created within the various subgroups of the scientifi c community. A surprising fact, however, is that scientists forget about the history of science. Since the nineteenth century, catastrophism has evolved as one mode for geologists to perceive the history of the earth. Catastrophism developed as an alternative to gradualism (also known as uniformitarianism) and is experiencing a revival in the current debate about global warming. Hence, we are witnessing the development of a scientifi cally founded, contemporary climate catastrophism. In the following, we will consider one of climate catastrophism’s specifi c forms, namely abrupt climate change as a future scenario.