13 Ways of Thinking About the Anthropocene

2016 may be quite a year for the earth and all its inhabitants. It may be the year that we all enter a new geological epoch called the Anthropocene. It falls to 39 members of the Anthropocene Working Group of the International Union of Geological Sciences to decide if we all move from the current geological era, the Holocene, to the Anthropocene. Anthropocene Working Group members are to decide if the imprint that’s been left on the planet, is being left on the planet and will be left of the planet by humans is significant enough to necessitate the birth of a new geological epoch named after humans – the Anthropocene. According to a member of the Anthropocene Working Group, Naomi Oreskes, this potential renaming is not merely about science, it is not simply to acknowledge that humans are the driving force behind a new geological era, as it’s also about recognising the momentous ecological changes that are taking place as a result of human-induced geological change. As Oreskes remarks, ‘ … we are witness to this profound and problematic transition. And we want people to talk about it’.[1] Thus, the naming of the Anthropocene has potentially profound ontological meaning, outside of its strictly empirical meaning. As Eileen Crist observes, the neologism challenges us to consider ‘who we are on Earth’.[2] This challenge of understanding the meaning of the Anthropocene has resulted in a torrent of academic and journalistic endeavour over the past few years from those who champion the term and those who reject it.[3] These various discourses do much to reveal ‘who we are on Earth’ by disclosing how we view the earth, how we view nature, how we view each other, and what visions we have for the future within the Anthropocene. The following 13 ways of seeing the Anthropocene offer an insight to some of these visions.

 One Way of Seeing the Anthropocene: As a Source of Confusion

 Everything about the Anthropocene seems to be up for debate, not least of which is the term itself. The term Anthropocene is a combination of the Greek: anthropo, meaning ‘human’ and cene meaning ‘new’. The term unambiguously states that humans have become such a force on the Earth that a new geological era needs to be named after them. There are, however, problems with the term which has resulted in a number of alternatives.

 Donna Haraway rejects the human-centeredness of the term. She argues that ‘assemblages of organic species and of abiotic actors make history, the evolutionary kind and the other kinds too’, asking us to recognise ‘the dynamic ongoing sym-chthonic forces and powers of which people are a part, within which ongoingness is at stake’.[4] She coins the term ‘Chthulucene’ with its ‘myriad temporalities and spatialities and myriad intra-active entities-in-assemblages’ calling on us to make inclusive stories and theories as we face the future.[5] In reference to those whom we share the Earth with Kieran Suckling states that the era should be known as the Homogenocene. He argues that this would better reflect the ‘mass disappearance of species from the global fossil record due to extinction’ as well as the abundance of certain animals, such as cows, sheep and pigs in the fossil record. According to Suckling this extinction on the one hand, and abundance on the other, has resulted in ‘a radical homogenization of the planet’s species between the Holocene and the current time’.[6] Scientist E. O. Wilson has suggested that this new era should be known as the Eremocene, the Age of Loneliness, due to past and accelerating extinctions and biodiversity loss.[7]

Jason Moore argues that the term Capitalocene (the Age of Capital as opposed to the Age of ‘Man’) is a more appropriate expression to account for what he describes as the ‘ecological crisis’. He argues that it is ‘capitalism’s extraordinary environmental transformations through its mutually reinforcing transitions in science, production and power’ that should define any new geological era.[8] This position is shared by Dipesh Chakrabarty who argues ‘the contingent history of our falling into the Anthropocene cannot be defined by recourse to the idea of species, for the Anthropocene would not have been possible, even as a theory, without the history of industrialisation’.[9] A gathering at the University of Aarhus came up with the name Plantationocene in recognition of the ‘devastating transformation of diverse kinds of human-tended farms, pastures, and forests into extractive and enclosed plantations, relying on slave labour and other forms of exploited, alienated and usually spatially transported labour’. In this analysis the plantation system is seen as the key driver in the development and expansion of the ‘carbon-greedy machine-based factory system’ and in the global propagation of plants and insects.[10] These options are only the most commonly referenced of the alternatives to the Anthropocene. Other names that have been mentioned include: ecozoic; anthropozoic; ecotopia; anthropolithic; anthrobscene; carbonocene; psychozoic, carbon capitalocene etc.

There is also debate about an apparent break in the convention of how epochs are named. Geologists pinpoint new geological epochs by identifying what they call ‘Golden Spikes’ which are captured in rocks, sediments or ice.[11] These ‘spikes’ appear as significant and measurable layers of material which mark a specific shift when the whole Earth changed in some fundamental way. For example, most scientists now argue that dinosaurs (and 50% of other life forms on the planet) died out 65 million years ago (for reasons still not fully understood) and they mark this mass extinction event as a ‘Golden Spike’ which represents the boundary between the Cretaceous and Tertiary geological periods. Therefore the convention is to examine rocks for evidence of fundamental change, not to name epochs after the force that ended the epoch before. For example, the Tertiary period is not named the ‘Asteroidic’. As Kathleen Moore observes, ‘the next epoch, if it has a name at all, should be named after rock bearing the evidence of what comes next. This will not be us’.[12] It’s no wonder then that Latour remarks that ‘the very notion of the Anthropocene is indeed an enormous source of confusion’.[13]

 A Second Way: As Contested Time

The temporal location of the exact ‘Golden Spike’ that represents the start of the Anthropocene is uncertain and hotly contested among academics from numerous disciplines. The two currently ‘favoured’ points in time are 1610 or 1964. Antarctic ice cores show a significant dip in atmospheric carbon dioxide around 1610 marking the effects of the genocidal impact of European settlers in the Americas.[14] With the arrival of Europeans and their germs vast areas of farmland reverted back to forest as some 50 million people died.[15] By 1964 scientists argue that radioactive isotopes are detectable in rock layers due to nuclear weapons testing over the previous decade. This date also fits within the ‘Great Acceleration’ of the post-war period where synthetic fertilizer became common in farming. This so-called ‘Green Revolution’ transformed farming and resulted in significant growth in worldwide populations. According to some scientists, these associated developments have left a layer of sediment which includes carbon and agricultural by products, as well as 1950s fallout.[16]

Others date the start of the Anthropocene with the industrial revolution in Great Britain, with some narrowing it down to James Watt and his critical improvements to the steam engine in 1784.[17] Some scientists and archaeologists suggest that the date should be far earlier, that it should coincide with the start of settled agriculture in the fertile crescent and China up to 10 000 years ago.[18] When to date the start of the Anthropocene is made more difficult by research that suggests that the epoch began at different times in different parts of the world. Recent research at the Quelccaya Ice Cap in Peru found significant traces of pre-Columbian air pollution in the ice from the mining and smelting of copper as early as 3000 years ago.[19]

The question of time and the Anthropocene extends beyond merely dating when it is supposed to have started. Ben Dibley draws attention to the extraordinary ‘folding of time’ that is taking place in the naming of a geological era after, in geological terms, the briefest of moments that humans have begun to influence the earth system. He argues that the concept of the Anthropocene ‘demands the simultaneous conceptualization of temporal scales that once appeared incommensurable’. Dibley contends that the Anthropocene challenges us to consider the damage that has been done in ‘split seconds’ as geological time has been folded with the time of capital.[20] For Latour the temporal Anthropocene has a different flavour. He argues that the Anthropocene is a ‘revelation of things that are coming toward us’ arguing that the modernist project of seeing time flowing from the present to the future is over, for in the Anthropocene time flows from what is coming.[21] What Latour refers to here is the Anthropocene as hysteresis.

A Third Way: As the End of Nature?

The dominant scientific discourse in the Anthropocene claims that the old division between nature and humans inherited from the Enlightenment era has ended. The argument goes that if the entire climate of the earth is being changed by humans, it stands to reason that the old division can no-longer hold as all of nature has now effectively become artificial.[22] If autonomy from humans is the essence of nature, then nature and humanity has been collapsed into one by the Anthropocene.[23] Dibley argues ‘the notion of the Anthropocene, then, vividly captures the folding of the human into the air, into the sea, the soil and DNA’.[24] In this discourse, for all intents and purposes, nature has ended, ‘the world is effectively no-longer wild’.[25] What it is replaced with is a kind of hybrid nature which is partly a human creation.

There are clearly a number of problems with this discourse, not least of which it implies that there is nothing left in what remains of the natural world worth preserving. Most environmentalists long ago rejected the idea of a pristine, untouched nature, but this does not mean that even ‘diminished’ nature is not worth fighting for.[26] It also denies that anything outside of humanity (flora, fauna and the wider earth system) has any agency or autonomy of its own, which is clearly an absurd proposition. Critics also point out a central contradiction in this discourse which simultaneously states that nature is no longer natural, but then acknowledges that ‘natural limits’ and tipping points must be avoided.[27] As Hamilton observes ‘nature, we are learning, has its own grand narrative, a narrative against (all) human narratives that says “you can no longer take me for granted”‘.[28]

Crist argues that the merger between humans and nature that is being articulated by most scientists is not about a respectful, mutual integration, but is rather a ‘takeover’ which is, ‘grounded in the experience of alienation and the attitude of entitlement’.[29] In this sense the Anthropocene is a ‘proclamation of dominance’ and the human ego writ large.[30]

A Fourth Way: As Megalomania

Is the Anthropocene the pinnacle of human hubris? Many think so. There is little doubt that much of the (mostly scientific) literature about the Anthropocene is infused with a sense of heroic anthropocentric destiny.[31] For example, Jedediah Purdy recently wrote ‘the world we inhabit will henceforth be the world we have made’.[32] Allen Thompson argues, ‘we don’t fear the end of the natural world; we fear responsibility for the natural world’.[33] This arrogance reaches its peak with Stewart Brands’ assertion that ‘we are as Gods and have to get good at it’.[34] Crist argues that the Anthropocene discourse ‘delivers a Promethean self-portrait: a genius if unruly species, distinguishing itself from the background of merely-living life, rising to earn itself a separate name’.[35] She condemns the ‘tedious showcasing of man’ in the notion of the Anthropocene which affirms the centrality of humans, as both force and subject of concern, resulting in the shrinking of the ‘discursive space for challenging the domination of the atmosphere’ blocking other forms of life from vying for attention.[36] Thus, for some, the Anthropocene represents the mastery of humans over the earth, a epoch that demonstrates our awesome power and influence. It is a discourse that sees the Anthropocene as simply another challenge to be overcome by the genius on humankind.

A Fifth Way: As a Modernist Straightjacket

This discourse of human exceptionalism (the God species) comes at a curious time and appears disingenuous. It comes at a time when we are realising for the first time how fragile our existence actually is on earth, it is ‘forcing the truth upon us’.[37] And that truth is that the Enlightenment modernist project is coming to an end as we reach the natural limits of the earth’s carrying capacity. As Clive Hamilton asserts, ‘the principal assumption of modernity, that of endless progress, now looks untenable’.[38] The modernist version of the future as a relentless forward march towards prosperity for all appears to be dead.[39]

If this is so, then how do we explain the megalomania? The answer would seem to be that most scientists and policy makers cannot see beyond the imaginaries of the Enlightenment. When confronted with a challenge as momentous as climate change they lack the language, vision or indeed will that is necessary to usher us out of the rhetoric of modernization.[40] This results in a business as usual (economic growth, consumer culture etc), within certain limits, mentality that champions technical and managerial fixes to the problem of the Anthropocene. According to Greg Garrard this is because the ‘Anthropocenic bourgeoisie’  actively ‘promotes the “dictatorship” of economic reason in their everyday lives’.[41] Hamilton calls this ‘the grand narrative that would not die, the story-line of daily decision-making in public, corporate and private life’.[42] He continues by observing that the most revealing aspect of the response to climate change ‘is the determination not to reflect, to carry on blindly as if nothing is happening’.[43] For Crist, for humans to admit that they were locked into a future course beyond their control is ‘something less glamorous than a show of power’.[44] Thus, the solution to the problem of the Anthropocene is to be found in the continuation (and probable temporal and spatial expansion – see the Seventh Way) of Enlightenment reason – despite the fact that it is precisely this thinking that got us into the Anthropocene in the first place!

A Sixth Way: As the Way of the WASPS

Before exploring how we may manage our way out of the Anthropocene it is worth asking who is it that proposes that we try to do so? A quick look at the members of the Anthropocene Working Group of the International Union of Geological Sciences shows us who. The Working Group currently has 37 members, only seven of whom are women and only three of whom are from the Global South (one from Brazil, South Africa and Kenya respectively).[45] Thus, the group is largely made up of white men from the Global North. This trend is continued in the recently published ‘Ecomodernist Manifesto’ which basically argues that the solution to the Anthropocene is to be found in technological innovation. This Manifesto has 18 authors, three of whom are women, and only one of whom is based in the Global South.[46] The composition of these two bodies is a crisis of representivity in thinking around the meaning of, and responses to, the Anthropocene. It reflects the ascendancy of both patriarchal and ‘Western’ Enlightenment thinking and reproduces the discourses from the Global North which dominate and shape intellectual engagements and ‘knowledge production’ globally. In doing so it marginalises potentially discordant voices from the Global South. As Hamilton contends, the story of the Anthropocene is ‘written by the powerful’.[47] So when we consider who is saying what about the Anthropocene we must continually interrogate how what is being said is mediated by both gender and class.

A Seventh Way: As Technophilia

Technology is to blame for the Anthropocene. If humans only used their hands they would have no more impact on the earth than animals who use their paws and hooves.[48] Despite this fact, the modernist straightjacket suggests that the solution to the Anthropocene is in the wise application of technology, no matter how unproven most of this technology is. This idea has a name, ‘Ecomodernism’, which not only demonstrates its Enlightenment roots, but suggests that any other kind of thinking about how to deal with the Anthropocene is backward, irrational and retrogressive. The Ecomodernist solution is to be found in technocratic managerialism and it declares that the Anthropocene can be ‘good’. The words technology, technologies or technological appear no less than 51 times in the Ecomodernist 26 page manifesto, such is the faith. The Manifesto bolding declares ‘As scholars, scientists, campaigners, and citizens, we write in the conviction that knowledge and technology, applied with wisdom, might allow for a good, or even great, Anthropocene’.[49] Other champions of Ecomodernism state that ‘we can design ecosystems … we can restore once magnificent ecosystems … to new glories’.[50] It’s a veritable technoutopia! This is the ‘Good Anthropocene’ of the technophiles.[51]

The primary technical fixes being championed by the moderns largely revolve around nuclear power (see the Seventh Way), carbon capture and storage, geoengineering and genetic modification.[52] Supporters of geoengineering propose to engineer the planet’s physical systems to optimize its climate for humans by attempting to manage solar radiation (e.g. by injecting the atmosphere with solar deflecting aerosols) or by attempting to remove carbon dioxide (e.g. iron fertilisation of the oceans). This geoengineering is described by a new academic journal called The Anthropocene Review as the ‘constructive side’ of human capacity despite the fact that there is absolutely no empirical evidence to suggest that geoengineering will work, and even if it does what the consequences will be for life on the planet.[53] Genetic engineering will be used to supposedly design plants, and possibly even animals, that can survive in the Anthropocene with its anticipated desertification and generally altered climatic zones. In particular biotechnology companies are focussing their efforts on bioengineering ‘Super Carbon Trees’ which will absorb more carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere than normal trees to try and compensate for the effects of burning fossil fuels.[54] The impact that such genetically engineered flora and fauna will have on pre-existing species and their habits is entirely unknown. While carbon capture technology is feasible (although its long term impacts are not), its application remains ‘speculative’ with no realistic hope of becoming operational anywhere for at least another 20, if not 30, years.[55]

The real problem with all these technofixes is that they do nothing to actually address the cause of the problem, the burning of fossil fuels. Rather they are attempts to deal with the consequences of the problem so that business can carry on as usual, and perhaps that’s the point.[56]

An Eighth Way: As Radioactive

Clive Hamilton asserts that nuclear power is the Ecomodernists ‘peculiar obsession’, while other opponents of the modernists technophillism condemn the Ecomodernists ‘adoration of nuclear power’.[57] The Ecomodernists attraction to nuclear power would seem to stem from the fact that it is a relatively low-carbon technology.[58] Nuclear power currently accounts for approximately 10% of world electricity generation (compared to the 15% now coming from renewables) from 431 operational reactors in 31 countries. Despite the turn away from nuclear power by Germany post Fukushima Daiichi over 60 new reactors will become active between 2015 and 2019. By 2030, a total of 272 new reactors are predicted to be generating electricity throughout the world, compared to 74 which are expected to be retired by 2030.[59]

It is beyond the scope of this piece to evaluate the pros and cons of nuclear power. Suffice to say that there is now overwhelming evidence which indicates that they pose a number of significant risks in the Anthropocene: among others, they are spectacularly expensive to build, maintain and decommission; they are not carbon neutral; there are significant short and longer-term (think hundreds of thousands of years) health risks; and they threaten to accelerate the spread of nuclear weapons technology.[60] As one group of concerned environmentalists recently stated, ‘nuclear power will always remain an ecologically reckless endeavour’.[61] These dangers must be viewed against the fact that uranium is a finite resource which analysts predict is likely to run out by 2080.[62] Much like the apparent reasoning behind geoengineering and bioengineering, the turn to nuclear power is more about the maintenance of business as usual than it is about responding to the pressing problems of climate change in the Anthropocene.

A Ninth Way: As the Financialisation of Everything

There is a certain promise in the Ecomodernists or Ecopragmatists faith in technology (which may shine a light on some of the motivations behind it) and that is that some people are going to make a great deal of money designing, testing, implementing, monitoring, and (crisis?) managing all these new technologies and the effects they have in the Anthropocene.[63] But the big money story is so much more than this, for the modernist faith in ‘more of the same’ sits very nicely with the needs of carbon capital, and capital interests more generally in the Anthropocene. Dibley argues that the target of much policy discourse around the Anthropocene is to ensure that market mechanisms are the preferred means by which to address the impacts of climate change, what he calls, ‘the gamble of green capitalism’.[64] The ‘market’ is certainly excited by climate change as a recent piece on the Bloomberg website demonstrates: ‘the debate over the effects of global warming has ended, and the search for investment opportunities have begun … there are macro opportunities galore’.[65] Here we have another manifestation of the ‘Good Anthropocene’.

This financialisation of the earth takes place in two distinct realms, the physical and the speculative. Capital looks to benefit from the material challenges and changes of the Anthropocene in a number of ways. There are those interests which look to ‘manage’ the coming climatic consequences of climate change, and those which look to benefit directly from the changes already taking place and certain accelerate in the coming future. Companies promising geoengineering solutions to ‘manage’ climate change are on the rise.[66] For example, Intellectual Ventures, part funded by Bill Gates, offers the StratoShield as a solution to ‘catastrophic warming’.[67] While, as we have already seen, companies like Monsanto and BASF are hoping to make money from the development of hybrid food staples which will be able to withstand new climatic conditions. Oxitec is currently engineering a mosquito that cannot reproduce as a response to the growing incidence of dengue disease in the global north (there were 66 cases in the Florida Keys in 2011).[68]

A broad range of companies have already taken advantage of climate changes. Both Nordic Bulk Carriers and Beluga Shipping claim that they are saving up to one-third of their shipping costs due to new routes being opened up due to melting ice in the arctic. This very same melting arctic ice has seen Shell, Exxon Mobil, Gazprom and Rosneft all begin the search for oil and gas in the arctic. Mining companies NunaMinerals and Anglo-American are now prospecting for gold and copper in Greenland.[69]

There is also a range of venture capitalist companies that have literally hedged their bets on climate change impacts. Water Asset Management buys water rights, proudly declaring on its website that ‘WAM has been organized to take advantage of global long-term resource scarcity’.[70] Firstconinvest encourages investors to buy arable land in Africa ‘where it is dirt cheap compared to that in the West … low costs can equal high current income and excellent upside potential in capital value’.[71] This invitation is part of a massive land grab that is seeing private companies (and government’s) buying land in Africa and Latin America to either make money (private) or as an insurance policy (governments) against the negative effects of climate change on global food supplies.[72] Other growth areas are said to be in construction (to repair storm damage), flood-protection services, desalination plants and even snow making machines!

Money is also to be made in the financial services. The atmosphere can already be bought and sold via the Kyoto Protocols Clean Development Mechanism and via carbon trading schemes, but the biggest growth area is in financial markets that deal with risk. Hedge funds, futures and derivatives are all being poured into insurance and reinsurance mechanisms. Particularly popular are so-called Catastrophe Funds where investors reinsure insurance companies in the hope that while they do no catastrophe will occur. This is how they are explained by Schroders Asset Management:

The devastation caused by natural disasters has risen dramatically over recent generations. Population growth has increased the concentration of property in areas susceptible to natural hazards. In addition, a rise in extreme weather conditions associated with climate change may increase the frequency of large-disasters … Catastrophe bonds can be designed to cover any natural disaster. Some popular insurances cover US hurricanes, European wind storms and Japanese earthquakes … if the insured event fails to take place … the investor earns a good return – usually between 8% and 15%.[73]

As of January 2015 the Catastrophe Bond market was said to be worth $25 billion globally.[74] Even the daily weather can be insured in the Anthropocene. With Nephila Capital you can invest in weather derivatives related to temperature (even daily), rainfall, snowfall and frost.[75] The Catastrophe Bond market is surely set to grow as it is being pushed by both the World Bank and the IMF and climate change related catastrophic events occur.

In the Anthropocene everything is for sale – from the air we breathe to the water we drink. The Anthropocene is the age where it appears that the last vestiges of the global commons are being parcelled up and sold to the highest bidders.

A Tenth Way: As Neo-colonialism

Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of the dominant discourse around the Anthropocene, especially for those living in the Global South, is its total disregard for social and political forces and how these interact with and form relations of power from the global to the local level. In addition,  in collapsing all of humanity into one epoch it has nothing to say about the differentiated responsibilities of humans for the climate crisis.[76] In doing so it lacks any kind of reflection on questions of climate justice or wider social justice in a climate constrained world. As it is currently formulated there is no doubt that the dominant scientific/ecopragmatist reading of the Anthropocene is neo-colonial in the way that it projects the concerns and aspirations of privileged and powerful citizens of the world who appear unconcerned with how this reading and the consequences it may inspire will affect the lives of numerous others with less privilege or power. Understood this way, the Anthropocene is a troubling ideological construct.

Some critics argue that there is no Anthropocene without empire because dispossession is the ‘very heart of the global socioeconomic system that made humans into a planetary force’.[77] This argument suggests that colonialism (as dispossession, disease, violence, trade, species transfer) was the driving force behind the emergence of the Anthropocene between 1492 to the early seventeenth century.[78] This does the important job of confirming that not all humans were, and indeed, equally responsible for climate change and that the Anthropocene is not just about human disregard for nature, but human disregard for other humans.[79] Understanding the Anthropocene in this way naturally links empire to capitalism and the legacy that both leave on the contemporary economic, social and cultural landscape, especially as they relate to the location of power, and where the dominant scientific/ecopragmatist reading of the Anthropocene currently comes from. As we have seen, it largely comes from white men from the Global North. Serious questions thus need to be asked about motives – do these voices represent the narrow interests of carbon capital; neoliberal environmentalism; the straightjacket of modernism; or the views of neo-colonial formations of power? These are critical questions in the Anthropocene, particularly for the Global South, because just as humans are not equally responsible for climate change, they will be not suffer its consequences equally either. Climatic impacts such as droughts and heat waves can be endured in many countries of the world because of the wealth they have accumulated, and continue to accumulate, because of colonial and neo-colonial patterns of ‘development’. In other countries, they can become catastrophes.

Worryingly there can be little doubt that many of the proposed ‘solutions’ to the Anthropocene involve ‘colonial logics’.[80] Geoengineering is a perfect example. Computer modelling has shown that spraying sulphur in the northern hemisphere would most probably result in drastic falls in ‘plant productivity’ in the African Sahel, while it is suspected that sulphur dioxide injections in the north will most likely disrupt the Asian and African summer monsoons. The cooling that took place after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991, used as evidence by scientists that geoengineering could work, reduced precipitation in the following by 20 in southern Africa and 10-15 percent in South Asia.[81] Another example, would be the creation of vast plantations of ‘Super Carbon Trees’ in Africa to suck up carbon dioxide. These would threaten farmland and water supplies and with it food sovereignty, just as the current land grabs do.[82]

Rob Nixon has shown us how the colonial logics of the Global North continues to systematically exploit many parts of the Global South both for resources (both in terms of extraction and production) and as dumping sites for unwanted waste and unwanted pollution (think carbon trading). The environmental cost of these processes are externalities as far as the Global North is concerned.[83] Unless the conversation around the Anthropocene changes and new voices are heard this process is likely to continue.

A Eleventh Way: As a World of Conflict

There is something particularly confrontational and even militaristic about some of the proposed ‘solutions’ to climate change. Geoengineering for example, conjures images of planes or balloons dropping chemicals in the sky like tiny bombs. The triumphal megalomania of much of the Anthropocene discourse is often framed as a great battle between the genius of humans (or macho posturing) and the wrath of some manifestation of a vengeful earth (always some kind of woman). These thoughts aside, real, actual conflict of the military or civil kind my well be a feature of the Anthropocene.

If the history of warfare is a history of the battle over resources then the Anthropocene is likely to be a bonanza for the global arms industry. This particular industry must be delighted by the competitive inter-state rivalries that characterize climate negotiations. The zero-sum game that appears to play out during these negotiations would seem to suggest that as the climate closes in, and as resources get more constrained, war becomes likely.[84] As the climate becomes more volatile and struggles over fresh water, fuel and land/food accelerate the potential for conflict between nation states rises, as does the potential for conflict within states and in urban concentrations in particular.[85] Even proposed ‘solutions’ could lead to more conflict. It is not inconceivable, for example, that states may resort to war over failed geoengineering projects that result force drought on some countries and precipitation on others.

Last year the US Department of Defence characterised climate change as a ‘threat multiplier’ and speculated that hunger and poverty driven by climate change could lead to ‘waves of mass migration’ which would present a threat to US security interests.[86] On the 20th May this year President Obama stated that ‘climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security’, claiming that the severe drought in Nigeria was exploited by Boko Haram and that high food prices triggered the civil war in Syria. As with the Department of Defence report, Obama drew specific reference to refugees.[87] This focus on refugees is a dominant discourse in Europe as well. The European Commission has undertaken a number of studies on the question of climate refugees seeking ‘safety’ in the European Union.[88] There is yet again, an element of neo-colonialism in these debates as concern seems less with the fate of the refugees (or indeed the countries they have left from) and more with the supposed security threat they present to the Global North. We need to be cautions in viewing this simply as a matter of the Global South haemorrhaging citizens to the Global North. India has recently erected a 2 100 mile long high tech fence to try and prevent an estimated 15 million potential climate refugees from Bangladesh from entering the country.

Another area of growing conflict in the Anthropocene is around the militarisation of conservation. As species, especially iconic megafauna, face extinction a more militaristic approach to their preservation is being adopted.[89] Many of the species currently under threat are in this position because of economic and social factors partly related to poverty. As those who are poor are more vulnerable to the consequence of climate change, the militarization of conservation is likely to become increasingly common as people look for means by which to survive.[90] Extinction may not be the only driver of this problem as civil conflicts may well break out between citizens trying to access carbon sinks such as forests as a means by which to provide for themselves.

It is too early to say how the relationship to between climate change and conflict will play out, but if human history tells us anything, the Anthropocene is likely to be a grand stage for conflict.

An Twelfth Way – As Time for us to Leave the Stage?

There have been five previous phases of extinction (Ordovician-Silurian, Late Devonian, Permian, Triassic-Jurassic and the Cretaceous-Tertiary) marked by the disappearance of abnormally large numbers of species. All of these phases of extinction have been caused by natural geophysical forces. Scientists now believe that we are in another phase of extinction, the so-called sixth extinction, which is caused by anthropomorphic climate change. Depending on which climate models you choose this sixth extinction is likely to account for anything between 25 – 50% of all life on earth by 2050.[91] This equates to the extinction of a sixth of all birds, a fifth of all reptiles, one-third of all corals, freshwater molluscs, sharks and rays, and a quarter of all mammals.[92] This is an extinction rate that is somewhere between 1000 and 10 000 times the natural rate of extinction.[93]

Given that the responsibility for all this falls on Homo sapiens is there not a moral argument that can be made that supports the contention that it is time for humans to vacate the earth?[94] Hamilton is scornful of this kind of thinking stating that to dream of a world without humans ignores the ‘death and suffering on a scale unparalleled’ in the elimination of the species.[95] But isn’t this line of thinking a bit like being sorry for cows that will not be born into the horrors of the factory farming system because vegetarians and vegans won’t eat them? Does it also not ignore the fact that millions upon millions of humans already suffer? Is it not the case that for many people on earth life is still ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’? Hundreds of thousands still die every year from entirely preventable diseases[96]; the epidemic of violence against women and children continues unabated[97]; the numbers of wars in the world continues its relentless rise[98]; there are more refugees in the world than at any time since the Second World War[99]; the income gap between the rich and poor widens to such an extent that the richest 85 people in the world own as much as the bottom half of the world’s entire population.[100] The list of horrors can go on and on: there are such things in the world as nuclear and biological weapons and somebody invented Catastrophe Bonds; there are bombs named Daisy Cutters or Silkworms; 56 billion animals are killed in slaughterhouses each year (3000 a second) it’s no wonder that animals flee from our presence[101]; people killed by missiles or bombs are ‘collateral damage’; fish have been renamed ‘fisheries’, animals ‘livestock’, trees ‘timber’, rivers ‘freshwater’, mountains ‘overburden’ and coasts ‘beachfronts’ etc.[102]

 Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us’, talks of the ‘gorgeous prospect of a refreshed, healthy earth’ after the demise of humans.[103] It is at times hard, very hard, not to want the Anthropocene to be the epoch of human extinction.

A Thirteenth Way – As an Epoch of Hope?

Yes, an epoch of hope for we cannot give way to despair, no matter how easy that could be.[104]

When something is named it becomes something that we can speak about, it develops a narrativity and in a sense it becomes real. The Anthropocene is a name and some of us are talking about it, in fact, some of us are talking about it a great deal. Most of the talking is being done by men (who are ‘experts’ and technocrats) in the Global North who are appropriating the word and making it mean something, become real, in a way ‘that has nothing to do with the actual Anthropocene and everything to do with preserving the status quo’.[105] These men are using the word to organise a ‘perception of a world picture (past, present and future) through a set of ideas and prescriptions’.[106] For these men, the solution to the environmental problems of modernity is more modernity for they champion the fantasy that technology will enable the decoupling of environmental impacts from economic growth (assuming as they do that economic growth is the only solution to humanities problems). This is the dominant discourse of the Anthropocene in 2015. It is suffocating in its attempt to convince humans that there is no other way of inhabiting earth and in the assumption it makes that only largely privileged male experts in the Global North have the right to decide how we live or die in the Anthropocene.

But is it only one way of knowing, one which is deeply reactionary in its attempt to diffuse more radical and progressive ways of viewing the Anthropocene. It may well be the last throw of the capitalist dice because climate change exposes the lie at the heart of the modernist paradigm in a way that nothing has before. For climate change is, as Haraway argues, ‘an inflection point of consequence that changes the name of the “game” of life on earth for everybody and everything’.[107] For Latour the ‘hype’ of the moderns is over, now there are ‘prospects’.[108] What these prospects will be is now up to us.

Chief among our objectives must be to create a ‘meta-narrative to live life differently’ and reconceptualise what it means to be human.[109] We need to break with economic growth and ‘the market’ and see them as they really are, as social constructs, not objective realities. We only need to consume to meet our basic needs, not to define our identity. Evidence suggests that subjective happiness does not increase as we work more, earn more, and consume more.[110] This is an objective for the Global South as much as the North, trapped as the South is in seeing economic growth as the only route out of poverty. This does not, of course, imply that some form of ‘development’ should not be an objective of the South – rather it compels us to ask what kind of ‘development’ do we want? There is obviously much still to be done in healthcare, education, and other social services, but does the global South need to aspire to current levels of consumption in the North? Do we need glitzy shopping malls on every street for example? It is a call to adopt a qualitative approach to development.

In the global North it is a call to welcome limitation – to choose not to have, rather than to have. To choose needs over wants, experiences over things. As Levene notes ‘we will be required to tear down many, perhaps all of our standard assumptions as to how “history” works’.[111] In parts of South America this journey has already begun with the emergence/re-emergence of the concept of called Buen Vivir, living well, that involves the satisfaction of basic needs and living as much as possible in harmony with each other and with nature.[112] A way of being where ‘altruism must take precedence over egoism, cooperation over unbridled competition, the importance of social life over consumption, the local over the global … the relational over the material’.[113] It is what Haraway describes as ‘making kin’ – making compassionate connections with each other, with ‘critters’ and with the earth, a sharing in assemblages.[114]

There is no doubt that this is a colossal undertaking, for the moderns will not go quietly as the response to the 2008 financial crisis demonstrates.[115] It asks us fundamental questions about the state of democracy in the world, especially as it relates to environmental matters. Erik Swyngedouw shows how the ‘post-political’ condition, where technocratic elite-driven governance (as solutions to specific problems) has replaced the contested politics of government, is now well-entrenched in environmental discourses. He argues that mechanisms such as the Kyoto Protocol or the Rio Summit are increasingly replacing political institutions of government. Dissent is only tolerated within these institutions if the hegemonic status quo is not contested. Radical dissent is ‘being evacuated from the political arena and relegated to the terrain of the “extrapolitical”‘.[116] Thus politics must construct new fictions and create new possibilities.[117] Vibrant public spaces (local, national and global) need to be created where all voices can be heard, including those that have been marginalised by the elite-driven environmental debates, such as ‘indigenous/traditional’ voices; those form faith-based communities; women, who must ‘exercise leadership in imagination, theory and action’ in this patriarchocene, for is the Anthropocene not in many ways a crisis of masculinities?[118]; children; and those from the Global South more generally – the Anthropo-unseen.[119] From these spaces a new joyous way of being in the Anthropocene may emerge.

It is to this epic task that the humanities must turn and perform their role. We must listen: to each other – especially those who have been labelled by the moderns as indigenous or traditional – those with other ways of seeing and being, with all their potential complications; to the rocks, trees, water, flowers, and animals. And while we listen we must use all of our gifts – from the academy to the streets. We must write, sculpt, sing, dance, and paint a fresh world alive with ‘prospects’. In line with Haraway’s contention that we should make the Anthropocene as short as possible[120], perhaps we should take the human out of the name and simply call it the Syntomosocene.

[1] Quoted in, Michelle Nijhuis, ‘When Did the Human Epoch Begin’, New Yorker, March 11, 2015. See, . Bruno Latour sarcastically observes that geologists have turned into philosophers. See, B. Latour, ‘Telling Friends from Foes in the Time of the Anthropocene’, paper delivered at the ‘Thinking the Anthropocene’ symposium, EHESSW-Centre Koyre – Sciences Po, Paris, 12 – 14 November, 2013, p. 1.

[2] E. Crist, ‘On the Poverty of Our Nomenclature’, Environmental Humanities, Vol. 3, 2013, p. 139 (original emphasis). A Google search for the term undertaken on 24 May 2015 revealed 588 000 references to the Anthropocene. Kersten Jens argues, ‘The Anthropocene can tell us something about the very complex ecological, social, and technological development of our Earth time and its cultural perceptions, with their consequences for our present understanding of art, biology, chemistry, diet, ecology, economy, education, ethics, geology, media, politics, science, society, technology, and – last but not least – law’. K. Jens, ‘The Enjoyment of Complexity” A New Political Anthropology for the Anthropocene?’, Rachel Carson Centre Perspectives, No. 3, 2013, p. 41.

[3] One journalist describes the interest in the term as ‘a phenomenon’ in its own right. See, Paul Voosen, ‘Geologists Drive Golden Spike Toward Anthropocene’ Base’, EENews, 17 Sept. 2012. See,

[4] D. Haraway, ‘Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Pantationocene, Chthulucene: Making’, Environmental Humanities, Vol. 6, 2015, pp. 159 – 160.

[5] Haraway, ‘Anthropocene … ‘ p. 160.

[6] K. Suckling, ‘Against the Anthropocene’, blog entry, http://blog.uvm.edu/aivakhiv/2014/07/07against-the-anthropocene/ (accessed 24 May 2015).

[7] L. Martin, ‘Is a Footprint the Right Metaphor for Ecological Impact?’, Scientific American, 2 April, 2014, See,

[8] J. Moore, ‘The Capitalocene: Part 1: On the Nature & Origins of Our Ecological Crisis’,  www.jasonwmoore.com/uploads/The_Capitalocene­_Part_1_June_2014.pdf. (Accessed 24 May 2015). Some geologists have jokingly stated that the era should be known as the Coco-Colaocene. See,  Voosen, ‘Geologists …’.

[9] D. Chakrabarty, ‘The Climate of History: Four Theses’, Critical Enquiry, Vol. 35, No. 2, Winter 2009, p. 219.

[10] Haraway, ‘Anthropocene … ‘ p. 162, see footnote 5.

[11] Golden Spikes in official parlance are known as ‘Global Boundary Stratosphere Section and Point’.

[12] K. Moore, ‘Anthropocene is the Wrong Word’, Earth Island Journal, Spring 2013. See,

[13] Latour, ‘Telling …’, p. 13.

[14] 1610 marks the lowest concentration of carbon dioxide in the ice cores.

[15] R. Morelle, ‘Anthropocene: New Dates Proposed for the “Age of Man”‘, BBC News, 11 March 2015. See,

[16] Voosen, ‘Geologists …’.

[17] P. Crutzen, ‘The “Anthropocene”‘ in E. Ehlers & T. Krafft (eds.), Earth Science in the Anthropocene, (Springer), 2006, p. 13.

[18] W. Ruddiman, ‘The Anthropocene’, Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Vol. 41, 2013, p. 47.

[19] L. Wade, ‘Ice Core Suggest Humans Damaged Atmosphere Long Before the Industrial Revolution’, Science Magazine, 9 Feb. 2015. See,

[20] B. Dibley, ‘The Shape of Things to Come: Seven Theses on the Anthropocene and Attachment’, Australian Humanities Review, No. 55, May 2012, p. 2.

[21] Latour, ‘Telling …’, p. 12.

[22] E. Lovbrand (et al.), ‘Who Speaks for the Future of Earth? How Critical Social Science Can Extend the Conversation on the Anthropocene’, Global Environmental Change, Vol. 32, May 2015, p. 6.

[23] Allen Thompson, ‘Responsibility for the End of Nature, Or How I  Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Global Warming’, Ethics and the Environment, 14(1), 2009, pp. 80 – 81.

[24] Dibley, ‘The Shape …’, p. 2. He describes these entanglements as ‘naturecultures’ such as soil modification or ocean acidification’, p. 3.

[25] S. Dalby, ‘Ecology, Security and Change in the Anthropocene’, Brown Journal of World Affairs, Vol. 13, No. 2, Spring/Summer, 2007, p. 156. Jedediah Purdy writes, ‘The most radical thought identified with the Anthropocene is this: the familiar contrast between people and the natural world no longer holds. There is no more nature that stands apart from human beings’. See, J. Purdy, ‘The Anthropocene Idea Has been Embraced by Earth Scientists and English Professors Alike: But How Useful is it?, Aeon Magazine, 31 March 2015.

[26] N. Hettinger, ‘Valuing Nature in the “Anthropocene”: Now More Than Ever’, unpublished paper, Feb. 2012, p. 6. See,

[27] Lovbrand, ‘Who Speaks …’, p. 6.

[28] C. Hamilton, ‘Utopias in the Anthropocene’, Paper Presented at the Plenary Session of the American Sociological Association, Denver, 17 August 2012, p. 8. See, Latour argues ‘the Earth is no longer “objective”‘, B. Latour, ‘Agency at the Time of the Anthropocene’, New Literary History, Vol. 45, No. 1, Winter 2014, p. 5.

[29] Crist, ‘On the Poverty …’. pp. 146 – 144.

[30] Suckling, ‘Against …’.

[31] Crist observes that a ‘presentiment of triumph tends to permeate the literature’, Crist, ‘On the Poverty …’, p. 132.

[32] Purdy, ‘The Anthropocene … ‘. He states that ‘Anthropocene talk is a discourse of responsibility’. See,

[33] Thompson, ‘Responsibility …’, p. 97 (original emphasis). Thompson continues, ‘… human being now shoulder the responsibility for planetary management; once the planet was larger than us, but it no longer is’, p. 97.

[34] J. Brockman, ‘We are as Gods and Have to Get Good at it’: Stewart Brand Talks About His Ecopragmatist Manifesto’, Edge, 18 Aug. 2009. See, An opinion piece by four scientists stated ‘The Anthropocene does not represent the failure of environmentalism. It is the stage on which a new, more positive and forward-looking environmentalism can be built. This is the Earth we have created, and we have a duty, as a species, to protect it and manage it with love and intelligence’. E. Marris, P. Kareiva, J. Mascaro & E. Ellisdec, ‘Hope in the Age of Man’, New York Times, 7 Dec. 2011. See, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/08/opinion/the-age-of-man-is-not-a-disaster.html?_r=0.

[35] Crist, ‘On the Poverty …’, p. 131.

[36] ibid, p. 141.

[37] D. Rose, ‘Anthropocene Noir’, Paper Presented at the People and Planet 2013 Conference: Transforming the Future, RMIT University, 2-4 July 2013, p. 6. See,

[38] Hamilton, ‘Utopias …’,  p. 5.

[39] Latour argues that ‘the dreams that could be nurtured at the time of the Holocene cannot last in the time of the Anthropocene’, Latour, ‘Telling …’, p. 2.

[40] ibid, p. 2.

[41] G. Garrand, ‘Worlds Without Us: Some Types of Disanthropy’, Substance, Vol. 41, No. 1, 2012, p. 50.

[42] Hamilton, ‘Utopias …’, p. 5. A statement from 18 proponents of degrowth argue that most contemporary thinking around the Anthropocene is ‘locked inside the business-as-usual, growth paradigm’. J. Caradonna (et al.), ‘A Call to Look Past an Ecomodernist Manifesto: A Degrowth Critique’, p. 9. See,

[43] ibid, p. 7 (original emphasis).

[44] Crist, ‘On the Poverty …’, p. 138. Hamilton argues that to be less than optimistic about the Anthropocene is to be ‘un-American’, pointing to the discourse of American exceptionalism which has been such a feature of twentieth and twenty-first century life. See, C. Hamilton, ‘The Technofix Is In’, Earth Island Journal, 21 April 2015, p. 2.

[45] See, See also, A. Revkin, ‘Never Mind the Anthropocene – Beware of the “Manthropocene”‘, New York Times, 17 Oct. 2014. See,

[46] See, http://www.ecomodernism.org/authors/.

[47] C. Hamilton, ‘The Delusion of the “Good Anthropocene”: Reply to Andrew Revkin’, 17 June 2014. See,

[48] D. Jorgensen, ‘Not by Human Hands: Five Technological Tenets for Environmental History in the Anthropocene’, Environment and History, Vol. 20, Nov. 2014, p. 479.

[49] An Ecomodernist Manifesto, April 2015, p. 6. See, The term Ecopragmatist has also been used.

[50] Marris, ‘Hope in …’.

[51] See Andy Revkin ‘Paths to a Good Anthropocene’, http://www.youtube.com/watch?voIHeqLKGd3Q.

[52] See An Ecomodernist Manifesto and, Dibley, ‘The Shape …’, pp. 5 – 6.

[53] F. Oldfield (et al.), ‘The Anthropocene Review: Its Significance, Implications and the Rationale for a New Transdisciplinary Journal’, The Anthropocene Review, Vol. 1. No. 1, 2014, p. 5. Naomi Klein states that geoengineering ‘is exponentially more ambitious and more dangerous than any engineering project humans have ever attempted before’. N. Klein, This Changes Everything, (London, Allen Lane), 2014, p. 266.

[54] E. Boyd, ‘Societal Choice for Climate Change Futures: Trees, Biotechnology, and Clean Development’, BioScience, Vol. 60. No. 9, Oct 2010, p. 744.

[55] Hamilton, ‘The Technofix …’, p. 3.

[56] The technical nature of these fixes also pose a threat to democracy. To date their development has been largely driven by private interests with little or no public oversight. One wonders how much public consultation there will be about whether these technical fixes should be attempted.

[57] ibid, and, Caradonna, ‘A Call …’, p. 10.

[58] Although this is claim is fiercely contested. Giorgos Kallis asks ‘What about all the carbon and energy necessary for extracting and transporting uranium, constructing, operating and dismantling nuclear plants or handling their waste? Calculated over the lifetime of a plant this makes nuclear far from clean and far from clear whether it produces any energy surplus to begin with’. G. Kallis, ‘A Degrowth Response to the Ecomodernist Manifesto’, 5 May, 2015, p. 4. See, http://www.degrowth.de/en/2015/05/an-ecomodernist-mismash/.

[59] http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/current-and-future-generation/plans-for-new-reactors-worldwide.

[60] For a comprehensive account of these problems see, H. Caldicott, Nuclear Power is the Not the Answer, (London: The New Press), 2006.

[61] Caradonna, ‘A Call …’, p. 11.

[62] ibid.

[63] The Breakthrough Institute, the home of many Ecomodernists, has been described as ‘the leading big money, anti-green, pro-nuclear think tank in the United States, dedicated to propagandizing capitalist technological-investment “solutions” to climate change’. See, I. Angus, ‘Hijacking the Anthropocene’, Resilience, 20 May 2015, http://www.resilience.org/stories/2015-05-20/hijacking-the-anthropocene.

[64] Dibley, ‘The Shape …’, p. 3. He argues that ‘the ecological is to be folded into market relations’, p. 5.

[65] Barry Ritholtz, ‘Profit From Global Warming or Get Left Behind’, Bloombergview.com, 24 Feb. 2014. He also states that ‘change and confusion equals opportunity’. For those that are nervous of investing in the climate crisis, he has this to say ‘The closest parallel I can think of is that while 15th century clerics insisted that the world was flat, savvy venture capitalists were investing in Christopher Columbus’. See,

[66] As of the middle of February 2015 28 patents for geoengineering have been registered. See, C. Hamilton, ‘Geoengineering is No Place for Corporate Profit Making’, The Guardian, 17 Feb 2015.

[67] http://www.intellectualventureslab.com/invent/introducing-the-stratoshield.

[68] J. Fang, ‘Meet the Companies Looking to Profit From Climate Change’, ZDNET, 7 March 2013. See, One wonders where Oxitec has been in the fight against malaria.

[69] Ibid.

[70] See, www.waterinv.com. It continues ‘There is a growing realization by many industry experts and analysts that the availability of water and problems with its potability will increasingly become difficult issues in the 21st century, and that companies with businesses that focus on water will experience dramatic growth and visibility among investors’.

[71] See, www.firstconinvest.com/pdf/africa-farmland-investment.pdf (yes, the company’s name really is all Firstconinvest!)

[72] See, for example, J. Martinez-Alier (et al.), ‘The Many Faces of Land Grabbing: Cases from Africa and Latin America’, EJOLT Report, No. 10, March 2014.

[73] www.schroders.com/globalassets/schroders/sites/pensions//pdfs/cat-bonds-october-2013-final.pdf. (emphasis added)

[74] www.prnewswire.com see,

[75] http://www.nephila.com.

[76] The average American citizen is responsible for 17.6 metric tonnes of CO2 per year, the average Australian 16.9, the average Britain 7.9 while those in China emit 6.2, Brazil 2.2, Nigeria 0.5, Bangladesh 0.4 tonnes, and in Zambia 0.2 tonnes per year. (Qatar tops the list at 42 tonnes!). See, http://www.data.worldbank.org/indicator/en.atm.co2e.pc.

[77] K. Lightfoot (et al.), ‘European Colonialism and the Anthropocene: A View from the Pacific Coast of North America’, Anthropocene, Vol. 4, 2013, p. 102.

[78] See, S. Lewis & M. Maslin, ‘Defining the Anthropocene’, Nature, March 2015. They describe their proposal as the ‘Orbis hypothesis’. Their analysis obviously resonates with the idea of the plantationocene.

[79] D. Luciano, ‘The Inhuman Anthropocene’, Avidly, 22 March 2015. See,

[80] A. Mitchell, ‘Decolonising the Anthropocene’, 17 March 2015, See,

[81] Klein, ‘This …’, pp. 270 – 272.

[82] The land grabs remind us that it is not simply a case of the Global North exploiting the Global South. Both China and India have recently purchased arable land in Africa. See, D. Nelson, ‘India Joins “Neocolonial” Rush for Africa’s Land and Labour’, Daily Telegraph, 28 June 2009. See,

[83] R. Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, (London: Harvard University Press), 2011. He notes, for example, that while Shell has pumped $30 billion out of Nigeria ‘the trade-off for the locals is disease, dispossession, military occupation, massacres, and an end to self-sustaining fishing and agriculture’, p. 119.

[84] S. Dalby, ‘The Geopolitics of Climate Change’, Political Geography, Vol. 37, 2013, p. 45.

[85] M. Levene, ‘Climate Blues: Or How Awareness of the Human End Might Re-instil Ethical Purpose to the Writing of Environmental History’, Environmental Humanities, 2, 2013, p. 154.

[86] L. Geggel, ‘Climate Change an “Immediate Risk” Pentagon Says’, Yahoo News, 19 Oct. 2014. See,

[87] Speech by President Obama, New London, Connecticut, 20 May 2015. See,

[88] For example, ‘Climate Change, Environmental Degradation, and Migration’, European Commission, 14 April 2014. See, www.ec.europa.eu It is not yet know what role climate change is playing in the deaths of thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean over the last few years.

[89] E. Lunstruum, ‘Green Militarization: Anti-Poaching Efforts and the Spatial Contours of Kruger National Park’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 104, No. 4, 2014.

[90] R. Leichenko & J. Silva, ‘Climate Change and Poverty: Vulnerability, Impacts, and Alleviation Strategies’, Climate Change, Vol. 5, No. 4, July/August 2014.

[91] E. Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, (London, Bloomsbury), 2014, p. 167.

[92] Ibid, p. 17.

[93] Ibid, p. 186.

[94] Members of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement certainly think so. See, http://www.vhmet.org.

[95] C. Hamilton, Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change, (London: Earthscan), 2010, p. 128. Levene describes fantasies of the extinction of humans as ‘some peculiar statement at the far end of deep ecology’. Levene, ‘Climate Blues …’, p. 155.

[96] See, http://www.unicef.org/why/why_preventable_causes.html.

[97] See, http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures.

[98] K. Hadley, ‘Alarming Increase in Wars’, History Today, 12 July 2011. See,

[99] I. Foulkes, ‘Global Refugee Figures Highest Since WW2, UN Says’, BBC Online, 20 June 2014. See,

[100] See, www.oxfam

[101] See, http://www.animalequality.net/food.

[102] Crist, ‘On the Poverty …’. p. 144.

[103] A. Weisman, Countdown: Our Last, best Home for a Future on Earth, (London: Little Brown), 2013, p. xi. Hettinger observes, ‘the Earth does not need us and the non-human world would be far better off if we weren’t around’. Hettinger, ‘Valuing …’, p. 5. See also, A. Weiseman, The World Without Us, (New York: Picador), 2007.

[104] Purdy suggests that ‘to think about the Anthropocene is to think about being able to do nothing about everything’. Purdy, ‘The Anthropocene …’.

[105] Angus, ‘Hijacking …’

[106] Crist, ‘On the Poverty …’, p. 140.

[107] Haraway, ‘Anthropocene …’, p. 159.

[108] Latour, quoted in Dibley, ‘The Shape …’, p. 5.

[109] J. Goodman, ‘From Global Justice to Climate Justice’, New Political Science, Vol. 31, No. 4, pp. 499 – 500.

[110] See, for example, C. Kenny, ‘Does Development Make You Happy? Subjective Wellbeing and Economic Growth in Developing Countries’, Social Indicators Research, 73, 2005 and H. Brockman (et al.), ‘The China Puzzle: Falling Happiness in a  Rising Economy’, Journal of Happiness Studies, 10(4), 2009.

[111] Levene, ‘Climate Blues …’, p. 149.

[112] See, for example, A. Escobar, ‘Latin America at a Crossroads: Alternative Modernisations, Post-Liberalism or Post- Development?’, Cultural Studies, 24(1), 2010, p. 5 and E. Gudynas, ‘Buen Vivir: Today’s Tomorrow’, Development, 54(4), 2011.

[113] S. Latouche, ‘Can the Left Escape Economism?’, Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, 23(1), p. 75.

[114] Haraway, ‘Anthropocene …’, pp. 160 – 161.

[115] Crist and Kopnina lament that ‘the possibility of an alternative way of life – abundant in diverse being and rife in mutual flourishing – is virtually beyond thinkable’, E. Crist & H. Kopnina, ‘Unsettling Anthropocentrism’, Dialectical Anthropolgy, Vol. 38, No. 4, Dec. 2015, p. 8.

[116] E. Swyngedouw, ‘Apocalypse Forever? Post-Political Populism and the Spectre of Climate Change’, Theory, Culture and Society, Vol. 27, No. 2, 2010, p. 227.

[117] Ibid, p. 228.

[118] Haraway, ‘Anthropocene’, p. 161.

[119] This is the thrust of much of Klein’s argument. Klein, This Changes … Purdy concludes that ‘Either the Anthropocene will be democratic or it will be horrible’. Purdy, ‘The Anthropocene …’.

[120] Haraway, ‘Anthropocene’, p. 160.

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