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The Handbook of Global Science, Technology, and Innovation by Andrea Filippetti, Daniele Archibugi

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Chapter 27Global Risks: Cause and Consequence of the New Interactions Between Science, Technology, and Society

Jean-Yves Heurtebise

Introduction: The “Anthropogenicity” of Global Social-Environmental Risks

This paper aims at understanding in what sense Global Risks can be understood as being the cause as well as the consequence of the new interactions between science, technology, and society that shaped contemporary societies.1 Let us consider Climate Change.

Climate Change is widely recognized today as being caused by human activities: “Emissions from motor vehicles, power plants, deforestation, and other human sources are warming the Earth and damaging ecosystems and human well-being” (Gonzales 2010). Most scientists agree that Climate Change is among the negative ecological consequences of the diffusion to the whole planet of the patterns of development that emerged with the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution itself was rooted in the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century:2 the application of the principles of mechanics to industrial processes in capitalistic economies lead to the invention of engines multiplying human workload. The engines producing this surplus of workload needed the fossil fuels (coal and oil) whose very consumption contributed to the emission of greenhouse gases from which Climate Change mostly derives.3

The industrialization process changed the whole social landscape. By attracting people from countryside to cities, where factories ...

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