백영경|기후위기 해결, 어디에서 시작할까

창작과 비평 2020 봄 통권 187호

백영경(2020), 기후위기 해결, 어디에서 시작할까


인류세 연구와 한국 환경사회학 : 새로운 질문들

인류세 연구와 한국 환경사회학 : 새로운 질문들
Environmental Sociology in the Anthropocene : New Questions

저자: 최명애, 박범순 (Myung Ae Choi & Buhm Soon Park)

최근 한국 사회에서 ‘인류세’라는 개념이 눈에 띄게 퍼져가고 있다. 인류세는 인류의 활동이 지구 환경 변화의 결정적 요인이 되었음을 가리키기 위해 제안된 새로운 지질학 시대의 이름이다. 2000년대 초반 지구 시스템 과학자들과 지질학자들이 제기한 이 개념은 정치학, 정책학, 인류학, 지리학 등 사회과학의 제 분야로 빠르게 확산되고 있다. 이 논문은 국내 환경사회학에서 본격적인 인류세 연구를 위해 해외 연구 동향을 소개하고, 국내 연구가 개입할 수 있는 지점들을 짚어 보고자 한다. 필자들은 먼저 지질학 논의를 중심으로 인류 세 개념의 등장을 소개하고, 사회과학의 주요 인류세 연구 경향(실증주의적접근, 정치경제적 접근, 신유물론적 접근)을 소개한다. 이어 ‘파국’과 ‘단절’ 논의를 통해 인류세 연구가 기존 환경사회학의 자연-사회 연구를 혁신할 수 있는 잠재성을 찾아본다. 마지막으로, 향후 인류세 연구가 확장될 수 있는 네 가지 연구 분야를 살펴본다. 필자들은 인류세가 근대의 체제, 가치, 사유를 반성하는 계기로 삼고, 확연히 구분되는 사유 체계를 발전시키고자 하는 인식론적 논의임에 주목한다. 특히 인류세 논의의 실험적이고 미래지향적인 탐색에서 기존 환경 연구와 환경 정치를 새롭게 발전시킬 가능성을 찾아본다.

개제: 환경사회학연구 ECO 23 (2), 2019.12.
논문 링크: http://www.dbpia.co.kr/journal/articleDetail?nodeId=NODE09288046#

도망칠 수 없는 시대의 난민, 인류세 난민

도망칠 수 없는 시대의 난민, 인류세 난민

도망칠 수 없는 시대의 난민, 인류세 난민

필자: 박범순 (2019)

나는 인류세 시대에 볼 수 있는 난민을 가리키고자 ‘인류세 난민’(Anthropocene refugee)이라는 용어를 제안한다. 이는 지역적 이동성이 상당히 제한된 피난자, 그로 인해 새로운 형태의 재난과 위험을 끌어안고 살아야 하는 사람을 뜻한다. 좀 더 범주를 넓혀 행성적 차원에서 볼 때, 궁극적으 로 인류는 모두 지구에 갇힌 ‘인류세 난민’으로 볼 수 있을 것이다. 기후위기가 추상적으로 느껴지는 사람은 인류세 난민을 상상하면 된다. 이런 난민은 이미 주변에서 어렵지 않게 볼 수 있다. …

게재: 과학잡지 에피(EPI) 10호, 12~27쪽

Documenting Nature of the DMZ through Digital Twin and a Citizen Science Platform

Documenting Nature of the DMZ through Digital Twin and a Citizen Science Platform

CAS featured stories 2

Documenting Nature of the DMZ through Digital Twin and a Citizen Science Platform

Myung Ae Choi

The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is often regarded as “the treasury of ecology”. This 248-km long ribbon of territory is left “untouched” since the armistice agreement in 1953 due to the prolonged Cold War politics in the Korean peninsula. However, other stories also emerge, arguing that the DMZ is not untouched but actually intervened with a range of human and nonhuman activities for military and other purposes. Although most of the human settlements were removed, other humans such as soldiers have made regular presence in and around the DMZ. Cranes fly across the Military Demarcation Line between the North and South border, while wild boars come down below the Southern Limit Line foraging food. These stories challenge the prevalent idea of the DMZ as an ecological paradise, and instead suggest an alternative narrative of the DMZ as a hybrid Nature emerging from the intertwined performance of humans, animals, and objects.

However, very little is known about who the human and nonhuman actors are, and how they interact with one another within and around the DMZ. Existing studies on the ecologies of the DMZ provide an overview of DMZ’s biodiversity, largely focussing on endangered species (유소영 & 서재철, 2008; 국립생태원, 2016; 문만용, 2019). Still, few examinations have explored the ecological landscape of the DMZ at a local and ethnographic level, which might prevent us from developing rich and nuanced understandings of the multispecies entanglement in the DMZ.

(C) DMZ Museum (photo by Yongjin Kim)

This research project aims to document nonhuman species, including but not limited to endangered species, in selected sites around the DMZ. It differs from the existing ecological surveys in three ways. First, it focuses on ecological data produced at the local level, rather than another overview of the DMZ in general. Second, the scope of nonhuman species is more inclusive than the conventional surveys, as feral animals and invasive species are also included in addition to endangered species. Third, a participatory research method is used to involve local residents in the process of environmental knowledge production.

The research team is currently developing a citizen science platform for local residents to participate in environmental monitoring in their own neighbourhood. Prof Woontack Woo, Augmented Reality Research Centre at KAIST, is keen to design and implement an open data platform where local residents can identify the selected nonhuman species, and document and share their findings by using a Digital Twin. Prof. Buhm Soon Park, a historian at Center for Anthropocene Studies (CAS) and Graduate School of Science and Technology Policy, explores the affirmative potential of participatory research platforms for “information environmentalism”(Fortun 2004), through which local residents and researchers can enhance their knowledge and sensibility toward the environment. While sharing the enthusiasm for citizen science, Dr. Myung Ae Choi, an environmental geographer at CAS, is particularly interested in the geographies and modes of encounters, through which local residents interact with feral and invasive species, let alone endangered species. Through an interdisciplinary investigation of the ecologies of the DMZ, the research team attempts to develop an alternative theorisation of the DMZ as an “Anthropocene Nature”.

유소영, 서재철 (2008), DMZ 155 마일을 걷다 – 2008 비무장지대 일원 환경실태보고서, 녹색연합: 서울
국립생태원 (2016), DMZ 일원의 생물다양성 종합보고서, 환경부 & 국립생태원: 충남 서천
문만용 (2019), 비무장지대 생태조사의 의의와 전망, 대동문화연구 106, 35 – 64쪽
Fortun, Kim. (2004) “From Bhopal to the Informating of Environmentalism: Risk Communication in Historical Perspective.” Osiris, vol. 19, pp.283–296.

Searching for stratigraphic signatures to define the start of the Anthropocene in Korea

Searching for stratigraphic signatures to define the start of the Anthropocene in Korea

CAS Featured Stories 1

Searching for stratigraphic signatures to define the start of the Anthropocene in Korea

Myung Ae Choi

In September 2019, a group of natural and social scientists from the Center for Anthropocene Studies (CAS) gathered at Bongpo Wetland, Goseong-gun, Gangwon-do. Two sets of boring devices were soon placed to extract wetland sediments as deep as 8.5 meters under the ground. This field data collection was one of the first research activities in the country to collect and identify stratigraphic signatures of the Anthropocene in Korea.

The recent diagnosis of the Anthropocene claims that humankind has emerged as an earth-changing force. An immediate follow-up question would be when the Anthropocene started. Four proposals have been made to separate the Anthropocene from the Holocene: 1) The spread of agriculture and deforestation in the Neolithic Period; 2) The Columbian Exchange between Old World (Europe) and New World in the 17th century; 3) the Industrial Revolution at around the 19th century; 4) the mid-20th century. While scholars support different proposals for diverse and convincing reasons, the international community of relevant geologists, the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS), favours the mid-20th century hypothesis that the rapid population growth, urbanisation, and industrialization, what is called as “the Great Acceleration”, has become responsible for the unprecedented changes in earth systems.

Then, what would be the geological evidence of the Anthropocene in the Earth’s geological history? With a view of formalising the Anthropocene as a new and additional geological epoch, the ICS has been searching for stratigraphic signatures of the Anthropocene in sediments and ice. They are looking for:

  • New anthropogenic materials: aluminum, plastics, concrete
  • Radiogenic signatures and radionuclides: excess Carbon-14, Plutonium-239
  • Changed geochemical signatures: elevated concentrations of polyaromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, pesticide residues
  • Carbon cycle evidences: increased concentrations of atmospheric CO2 and CH4

(source: Waters et al (2016) “The Anthropocene is functionally and stratigraphically distinct from the Holocene”, Science, vol 351, no.6269)

Waters et al. (2016)

Korean geologists affiliated with CAS have recently started to search for stratigraphic markers of the Anthropocene in Korean estuaries and wetlands. Prof. Guan-Hong Lee, Inha University, and his research team have collected estuarine sediments from four major rivers – Han, Geum, Yeongsan, and Nakdong. They are tracing new anthropogenic materials – such as microplastics, black carbon – and geochemical markers, while examining lithological characteristics that are distinctive from that of the Holocene. Korean estuaries would provide useful data to define the beginning of Anthropocene specific to the Korean context, as they are very close to urban and industrial complexes, and also heavily altered. Dr. Wook-Hyun Nahm, Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources, has worked on the timing when the anthropogenic signals of global warming overwhelmed the natural signals of climate fluctuation in Korea during the past 2000 years. While collecting and analysing geological records, the team also collects historical cases of human activities, such as cultivation, logging, and reclamation, which could explain the artificial sediments in the strata.

At Bongpo, Prof. Lee’s team collected recent wetland sediments as deep as 1.5 meters under the ground. Alongside other estuarian sediments collected from major rivers of Geum, Yongsan, and Nakdong, these samples are brought into his lab for geological analysis. Dr. Nahm’s team went into deeper by digging down to 8.5 meters, which would allow the team to look at geological records of the past 10,000 years. Dr. Myung Ae Choi, a human geographer at CAS, joined these geologists at Bongpo to collect the stories of how local residents have used the wetland for the past decades. These researchers work together by putting the geological data in conversation with the written and verbal accounts of human intervention in the recent past. Such interdisciplinary work, although at its early stage, could shed some light on the important question when the Anthropocene started in Korea.