Defiant Earth: The Fate of Humans in the Anthropocene

Defiant Earth: The Fate of Humans in the Anthropocene

Humans have become so powerful that we have disrupted the functioning of the Earth, bringing on a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene. The stable environmental conditions that allowed civilisation to flourish are disappearing.

What does it mean to have arrived at this point, where human history and Earth history collide? Clive Hamilton argues we need to rethink everything. The modern belief that we are free beings making our own future by taking control of our environment is now indefensible. We have rendered the Earth more unpredictable and less controllable; a disobedient planet. And it’s too late to turn back the geological clock.

We must face the fact that humans are at the centre of the world, even if we must give up the idea we can control the planet. These truths call for a new kind of anthropocentrism, a philosophy by which we might use our power responsibly and find a way to live on a defiant Earth.

Advance praise for Defiant Earth

‘There is no-one in the world who has reflected more honestly, courageously or profoundly than Clive Hamilton on the overwhelmingly most consequential question of our era: our species’ willingness to watch on passively and calmly as the once human-friendly Earth is gradually but inexorably destroyed.  Defiant Earth completes the argument of two previous books, Requiem for a Species and Earthmasters.

It is a dark, disturbing, provocative and entirely original work, which should be read by everyone genuinely interested in the future of humankind.’

Robert Manne FASSA, Emeritus Professor of Politics and Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow, La Trobe University

‘For those entertaining the idea that we should just rocket away from an overheated planet to some new world, or perhaps fill the atmosphere with sulphur to block out the sun, here’s a remarkably powerful accounting of our actual responsibility—past, present, and future.’

Bill McKibben, founder of

‘Clive Hamilton has been an original, important, and distinctive voice in the debate about the idea of the Anthropocene. Defiant Earth goes a long way towards bridging the distance between rival interpretations of this idea in the humanities while generating insights of its own into the meanings of being human in an age of planetary climate change. An essential reading for our times.’

Dipesh Chakrabarty, University of Chicago

Defiant Earth is a major contribution to a topic that is of vital if not pre–eminent importance today. The book is highly original in its synthesis of the scientific, philosophical and religious issues raised by the coming of the “Anthropocene”. Hamilton mines each of these traditions for ways to make sense of the new and frightening epoch that is upon us.’

Adrian Wilding, University of Jena, Germany





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