Slamming the Anthropocene

How do we tell stories for the ‘Age of Humans’? How do we bring emotions and moral choices into debates about climate change and economics?

IN THIS paper, we review some recent international museum and events-based ideas emerging around the concept of the Anthropocene, the proposition that the Earth has now left the Holocene and entered a new epoch: The Anthropocene (or Age of Humans).

The Anthropocene is defined by changes in natural systems that have occurred because of the activities of humans. It is an idea that emerges from earth sciences, but it is also cultural: indeed the geological epoch of the Holocene (the last 11,700 years) marks the period in which most of the world’s major civilisations and cultures have emerged; it includes both the Agricultural and Industrial revolutions. To assert that the planet has moved ‘beyond the Holocene’ is to assert that humanity (indeed all life) has entered a new cultural and physical space that has not been previously experienced. Questions of how humans live in a planet with changed atmosphere, oceans, land systems, cities and climates are moral as well as physical.

> A paper by Libby Robin and Cameron Muir. Read the rest in reCollections.

Feature image: Crop duster plane flying over Imperial Valley farms, May 1972. Charles O’Rear/The US National Archives.

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