Time of nature, time of society, scientific time at the time of global change. For an interdisciplinary approach to the crisis of temporality
Embedded in global change as much by its intrinsic power as by their ethosSpecifically, the scientific worlds which work on the junction between facts of nature and social facts have been experiencing for several decades an unprecedented crisis of temporality as a fundamental dimension of their practices as well as of their relationship to action. However, few are the researchers who directly question this crisis of a truly matrix nature and which forces them to a major re-examination of their ways of positioning themselves vis-à-vis the temporalities at work. In the field of environmental sciences, however, whether these are more on the physical and biological side or on that of the humanities, we have seen, since the 1960s at least, an exceptional blossoming of ways of saying the time and its metamorphoses. Stirring up and requalifying older legacies or producing new neologisms and conceptual associations, the different epistemic communities competed in semantic inventiveness: cycles, evolution, levels; homeostasis, inertia, cumulative effects; growth, stabilization, decrease; crisis, transition, mutation, catastrophe, collapse, extinction; acceleration, urgency, countdown, irreversibility; new era, anthropocene, capitalocene and other rudolocene; prevention, sustainability, intergenerational justice, resilience; heritage, preservation, conservation, protection, transmission… The list is far from closed, and each of these terms would call for a specific bibliography or archeology. However, we cannot be satisfied with this lexical abundance which,
Of course, it is not new that the times of nature and those of societies do not match, and that the scientific worlds are called upon to arbitrate their divergent legitimacy. Since the debates of the 19th century century on the confrontation of biblical time and geological time, scientific disciplines have built robust chronological frameworks each adapted to their object, from the study of climate to that of the life of insects. Likewise, the rise of “engineering” forms of public or private action has produced extremely elaborate time frames, from the time of materials and resources to that of information systems or the life cycle of policies. public. Nevertheless, the constant of these time scales is to enroll in a general repository isonormé and linear – only physics, science par excellence of exploration of temporality of nature, having produced the XX th century of major epistemological revolutions through developments in thermodynamics and quantum analysis, but without major imitation effect in other scientific worlds. What is more, the dominant conceptions of time inherited from classical science are characterized by their open character, that is to say without limit in the future, when the distinctive fact of the current crisis is, precisely, to make the possibility happen. of a closed time, of a "counted time" where the notion of delay is essential, of a possibly "last" time, marked by strong discontinuities, be they ecological, socio-economic or geopolitical.
In fact, the context of global change highlights in a particularly anxiety-provoking manner the problems of adjustment between the times of complementary subsystems, and nevertheless increasingly seriously out of tune: those, on the one hand, of what we would formerly have called nature, but it is now more relevant to define as the part of nature (biotic and abiotic) of contemporary socio-eco-techno-systems, and, on the other hand, those of existing ones and endowed with intentionalities – individuals, organizations, institutions – which claim to steer these systems and preserve their functional integrity as much as possible. Degraded time of ecosystems, deranged time of . . .