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The Longevity of Human Civilization: Will Web Survive  Our World-Changing Technologies?
Will human civilization on Earth be imperiled, or enhanced, by our own world-changing technologies? Will our technological abilities threaten our survival as a species, or even threaten the Earth as a whole, or will we come to live comfortably with these new powers? Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology David Grinspoon convenes scientists, humanists, journalists, and authors to explore these questions from a wide range of perspectives, and to discuss the future of human civilization in an anthropocene world. Read the full press release announcing the event

Date/Time: September 12, 2013 from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
     Free and open to the public
Location: The John W. Kluge Center, Room 119, Thomas Jefferson Building. 
     View directions to the Library of Congress

Twitter icon   See insights and analysis from the panelists on Twitter: #LongCiv

David GrinspoonModerator

David Grinspoon, Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology at The John W. Kluge Center; astrobiologist, planetary scientist, author and curator at Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
Read more about David Grinspoon

Participants

  • David Biello - Journalist covering environmental issues in the United States and internationally
  • Ken Caldeira - Atmospheric scientist at the Department of Global Ecology of the Carnegie Institution for Science
  • Steven Dick - Astronomer, author, historian of science, and 2014 Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology
  • Jacob Haqq-Misra - Planetary climatologist with a specialty in environmental ethics
  • Ursula Heise - Professor of English, UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and Immediate Past President of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment
  • Odile Madden - Materials Scientist & Engineer, Smithsonian's Museum Conservation Institute
  • Rick Potts - Paleoanthropologist, director of the Smithsonian’s Human Origins Program and curator of anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History
  • Andrew Revkin - Non-fiction, science and environmental writer, New York Times DotEarth blog
  • Kim Stanley Robinson - Science fiction author
  • Seth Shostak - Senior Astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute in Mountain View, California

Past Kluge Center events featuring David Grinspoon

Panel: "The Evolving Moral Landscape: Perspectives on the Environment – Literary, Historical and Interplanetary." View webcast Read press release

Astrobiology addresses three fundamental questions: "How did life begin and evolve?" "Is there life beyond Earth?" and "What is the future of life on Earth and beyond?" Learn more about astrobiology

The NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology is a distinguished senior scholar at the John W. Kluge Center who conducts research at the intersection of the science of astrobiology and its humanistic implications. Learn more about this senior chair position, get application forms

Applications now being accepted through December 1.

Have questions about chairs, fellowships & partnerships at The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress?

Email us at:
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Write to us at:
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   Washington DC 20540-4860

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Schedule

8:30 a.m.

Introductory Remarks
Mary A. Voytek, Senior Scientist for Astrobiology at NASA; and Carolyn T. Brown, Director of the Office of Scholarly Programs at the Library of Congress

9:00 a.m.

Greeting
Hon. Lamar Smith, U.S. Representative for Texas's 21st Congressional District and Chairman of the House Committee on Science Space and Technology

9:05 a.m.

Setting the Stage
David Grinspoon, Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology at The John W. Kluge Center

9:15 a.m. - 10:25 a.m.

The Nature of Nature: What Should We Choose To Save?
David Biello - Journalist covering environmental issues in the United States and internationally
Odile Madden - Materials Scientist & Engineer, Smithsonian's Museum Conservation Institute
Rick Potts - Paleoanthropologist, director of the Smithsonian’s Human Origins Program and curator of anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History

Break

10:45 a.m. - 11:55 a.m.

Seeing What’s in Store: The Future in the Literary and Scientific Imagination
Kim Stanley Robinson - Science fiction author
Ursula Heise - Professor of English, UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and Immediate Past President of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment
Steven Dick - Astronomer, author, historian of science, and 2014 Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology

Lunch Break

1:15 p.m. – 2:40 p.m.

Living with Ourselves: Can we Form a Healthy, Stable, Long-term Relationship with Technology and the Biosphere?
Seth Shostak - Senior Astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute in Mountain View, California
Andrew Revkin - Non-fiction, science and environmental writer, New York Times DotEarth blog
Ken Caldeira - Atmospheric scientist at the Department of Global Ecology of the Carnegie Institution for Science  
Jacob Haqq-Misra - Planetary Climatologist with a specialty in environmental ethics

Break

3:00 p.m. – 4:20 p.m.

Concluding Thoughts
An open discussion with all ten panelists and audience on questions posed throughout the day.

Twitter icon   See insights and analysis from the panelists on Twitter: #LongCiv

Photographs

Image from Symposium

Moderator David Grinspoon with panelists Ursula Heise, Steven Dick and Kim Stanley Robinson. The John W. Kluge Center at Library of Congress.

Image from Symposium

Moderator David Grinspoon with panelists Ken Caldeira, Seth Shostak, Andrew Revkin and Jacob Haqq-Misra. The John W. Kluge Center at Library of Congress.

Image from Symposium

Moderator David Grinspoon leads concluding discussions with nine of the day's panelists. The John W. Kluge Center at Library of Congress.

Image from Symposium

Moderator David Grinspoon with panelists Odile Madden, Rick Potts and David Biello. The John W. Kluge Center at Library of Congress.

Twitter icon   See insights and analysis from the panelists on Twitter: #LongCiv

Webcast

Will the longevity of human civilization on Earth be imperiled, or enhanced, by our world-changing technologies? Scientists, humanists, journalists and science-fiction authors convened to answer this question in a daylong symposium. Opening remarks, "Setting the Stage" and "The Nature of Nature: What Should We Choose to Save?"

NASA - part 1 video

Part 1

Opening remarks, "Setting the Stage" and "The Nature of Nature: What Should We Choose to Save?" Speakers included David Biello, Odile Madden and Rick Potts. (100 minutes)

View webcast

NASA - part 2 video

Part 2

The panel, "Seeing What's in Store: The Future in the Literary and Scientific Imagination," includes speakers Kim Stanley Robinson, Ursula Heise and Steven Dick. (100 minutes)

View webcast

NASA Webcast -- Part 3

Part 3

The panel, "Living with Ourselves: Can We Form a Healthy, Stable, Long-term Relationship with Technology and the Biosphere?," includes speakers Seth Shostak, Andrew Revkin, Ken Caldeira and Jacob Haqq-Misra. (85 minutes)

View webcast

NASA Webcast - Part 4

Part 4

The panel, "Living with Ourselves: Can We Form a Healthy, Stable, Long-term Relationship with Technology and the Biosphere?," includes speakers Seth Shostak, Andrew Revkin, Ken Caldeira and Jacob Haqq-Misra. (82 minutes)

View webcast

Event Recap

How will the longevity of human civilization be affected by world-changing technologies? Kluge Center Astrobiology Chair David Grinspoon and prominent scientists, humanists, journalists, and science fiction writers aimed to address this question at a symposium on Thursday September 12. 

The symposium’s first panel asked what is the nature of “Nature,” and what should we choose to save. Paleoanthropologist Rick Potts, materials scientist Odile Madden, and journalist David Biello discussed how societal and cultural values inform what of nature is preserved and what information about nature is transferred between generations.

The day’s second panel explored the future in literary and scientific imagination.  Professor Ursula Heise, astronomer Steven Dick, and science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson offered contrasting views on how humans imagine the future, informed by history, scientific discovery, and social and cultural differences.

The third panel asked if humans can form a healthy, stable, long-term relationship with technology and the biosphere. Astronomer Seth Shostak, science writer Andrew Revkin, atmospheric scientist Ken Caldeira and planetary climatologist Jacob Haqq-Misra debated how taking a short-term or long-term perspective on the question makes great impact on how to answer it. The panelists discussed how human civilization may survive, and what the quality of civilization may be.  

The final panel invited all speakers to the stage to engage with the audience in discussion. David Grinspoon said that, in his estimation, the largest threat to human civilization would be a lack of developing a healthy relationship with technology. The sciences and the humanities can offer solutions for a long-lasting healthy civilization, he said.

Photographs from the event are now available on the event webpage. A full webcast of the symposium will be available in the coming weeks. Highlights and insights from the discussions can be found on Twitter: #LongCiv.

The John W. Kluge Center was established at the Library of Congress in 2000 to foster a mutually enriching relationship between the world of ideas and the world of action, between scholars and political leaders. The Center attracts outstanding scholarly figures to Washington, D.C., facilitates their access to the Library’s remarkable collections, and helps them engage in conversation with policymakers and the public.

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