Bring On The Anthropocene!

I believe I would vote yes, that the Anthropocene should be added as its own epoch. This is going to sound like a cocky and ignorant reason, but I think mankind deserves a little recognition on the greater timeline of earth with regards to the fact that we have supposedly become more powerful than nature herself. To me the Anthropocene is somewhat of a progress narrative. Steffen and Malm primarily discuss human-induced global warming as a means to mark the Anthropocene and as a negative consequence of our advancement that shows we have practically overcome nature. Kahan also addresses climate change but blames our problems on the ignorant “public”. Kolbert gives us some history of the Anthropocene and calls it “The Age of Man”, which in my opinion gives a connotation of power and triumph but also suggests that this epoch is simply our turn as humans to stamp our presence upon this planet (also sounds like a Twilight Zone episode). Whether you like the climate change example, or whether it makes you mentally and physically shut down when someone brings it up, no one can deny that humans have left our mark on earth in more ways than one. That’s essentially the main point in these readings; that we have brought upon this world a form of change which nature never would have dared to initiate. I think I would agree with the Steffen reading that the year 1800 would be a reasonable beginning for the official Anthropocene. This way, the beginning of technological advances that actually have a lasting effect on our world would mostly be included.
Climate change is a classic example of an issue that is divided along the lines of politics. Because of this, the natural accompanying issue is a sort of gridlock of any solutions because you always end up threatening someone’s core values indirectly by taking a side on it. This occurs because those on the left who strongly support more efforts for the slowing down climate change tend to claim it as their own issue which makes those on the right feel as though they are giving in to the liberal agenda by accepting that climate change is real. This is obviously over-generalized and the divide is very much the fault of both sides but you get the picture. Dr. Whitlock talked about asking Montana residents what information they actually needed or wanted about the environment and climate change so that they felt this information was benefiting them. She also talked about using the term “changing climate” as opposed to the more politically charged “climate change”. Personally, I think that using a change in wording this small suggests perhaps unfairly that those opposed to the idea of climate change are too ignorant or uneducated to notice such a difference, or further that their entire stance is solely based on rejecting certain rhetoric with no actual basis for their ideas but that’s just me. I appreciate Dr. Whitlock’s presenting of information for people to draw their own conclusions about and her obtaining input from these people about what they actually wanted to know about Montana’s environment. I think that stepping away from forceful political stances on the matter of climate change and instead presenting evidence and facts in a friendly and open-minded manner is the only way we’ll ever be able to move forward with climate change solutions.

1 thought on “Bring On The Anthropocene!”

  1. Ms. Alderman,

    Your supposition about the divisive nature of political opinions and their impact on scientific issues is a well worded and thought out summation of the issues at hand, and does an excellent job of reformatting a confusing and academic theory in a much more palatable form. I also think that you have made several excellent points about the involvement of humanity in the narrative of global climate change, however I would suggest that Dr. Crutzen’s insistence on the inclusion of the Anthropocene had more to do with a forced recognition of human impact, and hopeful change, rather than the contributions and ostensible power of humanity.

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