EIHS Lecture: A Life in Planetary History (Perrin Selcer)
Inspired by Earth system scientists’ models of global environmental catastrophe, luminaries of “planetary history” proclaim the collapse of the divide separating natural and human history and, simultaneously, define the planetary scale as incommensurable with experience. This talk explores an alternative approach that reconstructs Earth history through biographies of individual organisms. From “life histories” recorded in the tusks of mastodons and mammoths, paleobiologists investigate the drivers of species extinction at the end of the Ice Age. The scalar perspective that emerges from the interaction of fossilized animal traces and a scientific career offers a planetary imaginary individuals may relate to.