Conference “Cultural Dimensions of Climate Change and the Environment in North America”

The Conference will take place at the  Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI) in Essen, Germany (June 28-29 , 2012)

Climate change is an inherently global problem. However, climate change impacts as well as mitigation efforts are always perceived and dealt with locally and in a culture-specific way. Global warming interacts in multiple ways with North American ecological and social systems. On the one hand, the U.S. and Canada belong to the world’s largest per capita emitters of greenhouse gases. On the other hand, the Arctic north of the continent as well as the Deep South is already heavily affected by a changing climate. Despite the US’s and recently also Canada’s rejection of international binding climate targets, on the local and regional level, some of the world’s most ambitious climate initiatives can be found in North America.

Striking about the symbolic representation of climate change in the USA is a relatively huge cultural variety. While in Europe climate change deniers are largely marginalized and without influence on mainstream politics, American views on climate change and the environment become increasingly polarized according to political beliefs. And whereas the U.S. hosts some of the world’s leading climate science institutions, religious explanations of why global warming is or is not happening, repeatedly have found supporters in media and politics, too.

How can these contradictions be explained? The participants will deal with these questions in the course of the conference that focuses on the human dimensions and cultural representations of climate change and the environment in North America.

You can read the program here.