Can humans survive the Anthropocene?

So profound has been the influence of humans that Earth system scientists have proposed that the Earth has entered a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. The new epoch marks the end of the Holocene, a 10,000-year period of climatic stability and clemency that permitted civilization to flourish. What does it mean for humankind to inscribe itself into geological time? If since the dawn of the modern era we have thought of ourselves as creatures of culture what does it mean when culture becomes so potent that it interferes with the great processes of nature that make the planet a dynamic entity? For a start, the task of environmentalism can no longer be to save the planet, for the planet we wanted to save has become something else, not the kind of thing that can be “preserved”. For some, the arrival of the Anthropocene is an invitation to take control of the Earth through technological mastery. Others are preparing to escape a ruined planet. We may not be able to turn back the geological clock, say the more humble, but we can slow its ticking.


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