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Our future

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Erwin-Schrödinger-Saal
Plenary / Panel
english language

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Nobel Laureate for Chemistry; Professor emeritus, Max-Planck-Institute for Chemistry, Mainz Abstract
For the past three centuries, the effects of humans on the global environment have escalated. Because of these anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide, global climate may depart significantly from natural behavior for many millennia to come. It seems appropriate to assign the term  Anthropocene to the present, in many ways human-dominated, geological epoch, supplementing the Holocene  the warm period of the past 10 12 millennia. The Anthropocene could be said to have started in the latter part of the eighteenth century, when analyses of air trapped in polar ice showed the beginning of growing global concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane. This date also happens to coincide with James Watt s design of the steam engine in 1784.Mankind s growing influence on the environment was recognized as long ago as1873, when the Italian geologist Antonio Stoppani spoke about a  new telluric force which in power and universality may be compared to the greater forces of earth, referring to the  anthropozoic era . And in 1926, V. I. Vernadsky acknowledged the increasing impact of mankind:  The direction in which the processes of evolution must proceed, namely towards increasing consciousness and thought, and forms having greater and greater influence on their surroundings. Teilhard de Chardin and Vernadsky used the term  noösphere  the world of thought  to mark the growing role of human brain-power in shaping its own future and environment. The rapid expansion of mankind in numbers and per capita exploitation of Earth s resources has continued apace. During the past three centuries, the human population has increased tenfold to more than 6 billion and is expected to reach 10 billion in this century. The methane-producing cattle population has risen to 1.4 billion. About 30 50% of the planet s land surface is exploited by humans. Tropical rainforests disappear at a fast pace, releasing carbon dioxide and strongly increasing species extinction. Dam building and river diversion have become commonplace. More than half of all accessible fresh water is used by mankind. Fisheries remove more than 25%of the primary production in upwelling ocean regions and 35% in the temperate continental shelf. Energy use has grown 16-fold during the twentieth century, causing 160 million tones of atmosphericsulphur dioxide emissions per year, more than twice the sum of its natural emissions. More nitrogen fertilizer is applied in agriculture than is fixed naturally in all terrestrial ecosystems; nitric oxide production by the burning of fossil fuel and biomass also overrides natural emissions. Fossil-fuel burning and agriculture have caused substantial increases in the concentrations of  greenhouse gases  carbon dioxide by 30% and methane by more than100%  reaching their highest levels over the past 400 millennia, with more to follow. So far, these effects have largely been caused by only 25% of the world population. The consequences are, among others, acid precipitation, photochemical  smog and climate warming. Hence, according to the latest estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Earth will warm by 1.4 5.8 °C during thiscentury.Many toxic substances are released into the environment, even some that are not toxic at all but nevertheless have severely damaging effects, for example the chloro-fluorocarbons that caused the Antarctic ozone hole (and which are now regulated).Things could have become much worse: theozone-destroying properties of the halogens have been studied since the mid-1970s.If it had turned out that chlorine behaved chemically like bromine, the ozone hole would by then have been a global, year-round phenomenon, not just an event of the Antarctic spring. More by luck than by wisdom, this catastrophic situation did not develop. Unless there is a global catastrophe  a meteorite impact, a world war or a pandemic  mankind will remain a major environmental force for many millennia. A daunting task lies ahead for scientists and engineers to guide society towards environ-mentally sustainable management during the era of the Anthropocene. This will require appropriate human behavior at all scales, and may well involve internationally accepted, large-scale geo-engineering projects, for instance to  optimize climate. At this stage, however, we are still largely treading on terra incognita.
Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science, Oxford University
Editor in Chief and Managing Director, NZZ Austria; Mentor, Alpbach Media Academy; Vienna Chair

Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Paul J. CRUTZEN

Nobel Laureate for Chemistry; Professor emeritus, Max-Planck-Institute for Chemistry, Mainz

1968 Meteorology, University of Stockholm, Sweden; Ph.D. (Fil. Lic.)
1969-1971 Fellow of the European Space Research Organization at Oxford University, England
1973 Dr. Sc.
1969-1971 Fellow of the European Space Research Organization at Oxford University, England
  and Researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder (half-time), Colorado, USA
1974-1977 Consultant at the Aeronomy Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (half-time)
  Colorado, USA
1977-1980 Senior Scientist and Director of the Air Quality Division of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder,
1976-1981 Adjunct Professor at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Department of Atmospheric Sciences
  Division of the Max-Planck-Institute, Mainz
1980-2000 Member of the Max-Planck-Society for the Advancement of Science and Director of the Atmospheric Chemistry
1987-1991 Professor (part-time), University of Chicago, Department of Geophysical Sciences, USA
1991-1992 Tage-Erlander-Professor of the Swedish Natural Research Council at the University of Stockholm, Sweden
since 1992 Professor (part-time), Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, La Jolla, USA
1997-2000 Professor (part-time), Utrecht University, Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Netherlands
since 2000 Emeritus at the Max-Planck-Institute for Chemistry

Dr. Richard DAWKINS

Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science, Oxford University

1959-1962 Balliol College, University of Oxford
1962-1966 Research Student, Oxford University, D.Phil., 1966
1965-1967 Research Assistant to Professor N.Tinbergen FRS
1967-1969 Assistant Professor of Zoology at the University of California at Berkeley
1969-1970 Senior Research Officer, Department of Zoology, Oxford
1970-1990 Lecturer in Zoology at Oxford University and Fellow of New College
1989 D.Sc. (Oxford)
1990-1995 Ad-hominem-Reader in Zoology, University of Oxford
  Professorial Fellow of New College
since 1995 Charles-Simonyi-Professor of the Public Understanding of Science, University of Oxford, and

Michael FLEISCHHACKER

Editor in Chief and Managing Director, NZZ Austria; Mentor, Alpbach Media Academy; Vienna

ab 1988 Studien der Theologie, Germanistik und Klassischen Philologie an der Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz (nicht abgeschlossen)
1991-1994 Außenpolitik-Redakteur, "Kleine Zeitung"
1994 Redakteur in der Chefredaktion, "Kleine Zeitung"
1995-1997 Chef vom Dienst, "Kleine Zeitung"
1998-1999 Stellvertretender Chefredakteur, "Kleine Zeitung"
2000-2001 Chef vom Dienst, "Standard"
2002-2004 Stellvertretender Chefredakteur, "Die Presse"
2004-2012 Chefredakteur, "Die Presse"
2013/14 Leiter, Media Academy, Europäisches Forum Alpbach
seit 2015 Chefredakteur, "nzz.at"

Technology Forum

show timetable

25.08.2005

10:00 - 12:00Technology brunch sponsored by Tiroler ZukunftsstiftungSocial
13:00 - 14:00OpeningPlenary
14:00 - 15:30Our futurePlenary
16:00 - 18:00Location of science and research - a global shift?Plenary
20:00 - 21:00SecurityPlenary
21:30 - 23:45Evening reception sponsored by Alcatel AustriaSocial

26.08.-27.08.2005

Junior AlpbachBreakout

26.08.2005

09:00 - 15:00Working Group 01: Technology and location strategies for enterprisesBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 02: Electronic carBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 03: Science of everyday productsBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 04: Security of energy supplyBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 05: NanotechnologyBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 06: From scientific journal to breaking news: science and the mediaBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 07: Fuel cells and hydrogen - the future of transport?Breakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 08: European strategies for international research cooperationBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 09: Excellence - a question of genderBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Working Group 10: Converging technologiesBreakout
16:00 - 16:45University/industry interaction - The Atlantic picturePlenary
16:45 - 17:30University/industry interaction - The Austrian solutionPlenary
17:30 - 18:00University/industry interaction - Political ConclusionsPlenary
18:00 - 20:00Reception sponsored by Province of Lower AustriaSocial
20:00 - 21:00The science of saving VenicePlenary

27.08.2005

09:00 - 10:30Politics and SciencePlenary
10:30 - 11:30Science at the cutting edgePlenary
12:00 - 12:15Alpbach 2005 - Resumée Junior AlpbachPlenary
12:15 - 13:00Reflections and PerspectivesPlenary
13:00 - 14:30Farewell reception sponsored by Microsoft AustriaSocial