Exchange Principle

Forensic Architecture

Edmond Locard formulated the single most important principle in shaping the field of forensic science, namely the precept that “every contact leaves a trace.” It posits that in any encounter between bodies, objects, materials, and spaces certain residual traces are deposited and exchanged. These points of contact between entities can be mapped scientifically to link the distribution of bodies and objects within space. However Locard’s thesis is premised on a local, proximate interaction and doesn’t allow for the diffusion of effects through a population or the elongation of space and time between an event and its consequence. In the case of environmental pollution and anthropogenic climate change, the contact and the trace—the event and its consequence—drift apart, requiring sophisticated meditation in order to reconnect them by establishing a causal link. Climate science and especially the computational climate model, in extending forensic climatology to the scale of the planet itself, end the era in which the diffusion and elongation of causes and effects conceal wanton environmental destruction.

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