The Anthropocene Is a Joke

”The idea of the Anthropocene inflates our own importance by promising eternal geological life to our creations. It is of a thread with our species’ peculiar, self-styled exceptionalism—from the animal kingdom, from nature, from the systems that govern it, and from time itself. This illusion may, in the long run, get us all killed. We haven’t earned an Anthropocene epoch yet. If someday in the distant future we have, it will be an astounding testament to a species that, after a colicky, globe-threatening infancy, learned that it was not separate from Earth history, but a contiguous part of the systems that have kept this miraculous marble world habitable for billions of years.”

I confess to having used this phrase before. This knockout punch of an article, hilarious and profound, completely killed that term for me. I’ll never use it seriously again.


Hi Hugi :slight_smile:

Of course the article is right. The use of -cene, meaning a geological epoch, is wrong, according to the time of the Earth, not talking of the galaxy or even universe. It’s arrogant, like the concept it expresses. Maybe we should use a different word, do we have viable options?

The problem I see here, in the article, is confusing the wrong use of the term, which presumes that a span of - let’s say - 200 years could be considered un epoch and maybe it shouldn’t be seen not even as an event in geology, with the use of it in human sciences, especially in media and communications, to highlight the impact of our actions on the climate and the ecosystems.

As George Carlin said, “the planet is fine, the people are fucked”. Of course what we do wouldn’t touch the surface of the Earth on a geological scale, but it concerns us as a species: the conditions we are living, and more coming in the future, are the results of our arrogance. Playing to be omnipotent brought us to an uncertain environment, unpredictable climate and, in the end, to a threat to ourselves. Moreover, people living in poorer countries will suffer more.

So I think that, even if Anthropocene is not the proper term to classify a geological epoch, I think it’s a useful term to become more conscious of our actions and, maybe, change our behaviour (for ourselves, not for the planet).