Three new books on the Anthropocene coming out this spring

Several new titles on the Anthropocene worth checking out (plus the one I mentioned earlier this week). Here they are:

Great AccelerationThe Great Acceleration: An Environmental History of the Anthropocene since 1945J.R. McNeill, Harvard University Press.

The Earth has entered a new age—the Anthropocene—in which humans are the most powerful influence on global ecology. Since the mid-twentieth century, the accelerating pace of energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and population growth has thrust the planet into a massive uncontrolled experiment. The Great Acceleration explains its causes and consequences, highlighting the role of energy systems, as well as trends in climate change, urbanization, and environmentalism.

More than any other factor, human dependence on fossil fuels inaugurated the Anthropocene. Before 1700, people used little in the way of fossil fuels, but over the next two hundred years coal became the most important energy source. When oil entered the picture, coal and oil soon accounted for seventy-five percent of human energy use. This allowed far more economic activity and produced a higher standard of living than people had ever known—but it created far more ecological disruption.

We are now living in the Anthropocene. The period from 1945 to the present represents the most anomalous period in the history of humanity’s relationship with the biosphere. Three-quarters of the carbon dioxide humans have contributed to the atmosphere has accumulated since World War II ended, and the number of people on Earth has nearly tripled. So far, humans have dramatically altered the planet’s biogeochemical systems without consciously managing them. If we try to control these systems through geoengineering, we will inaugurate another stage of the Anthropocene. Where it might lead, no one can say for sure.

Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalismdetail_779_anthropocene_capitalocene

Contributors include Jason W. Moore, Eileen Crist, Donna J. Haraway, Justin McBrien, Elmar Altvater, Daniel Hartley, and Christian Parenti.

The Earth has reached a tipping point. Runaway climate change, the sixth great extinction of planetary life, the acidification of the oceans—all point toward an era of unprecedented turbulence in humanity’s relationship within the web of life. But just what is that relationship, and how do we make sense of this extraordinary transition?

Anthropocene or Capitalocene? offers answers to these questions from a dynamic group of leading critical scholars. They challenge the theory and history offered by the most significant environmental concept of our times: the Anthropocene. But are we living in the Anthropocene, literally the “Age of Man”? Is a different response more compelling, and better suited to the strange—and often terrifying—times in which we live? The contributors to this book diagnose the problems of Anthropocene thinking and propose an alternative: the global crises of the twenty-first century are rooted in the Capitalocene, the Age of Capital.

Anthropocene or Capitalocene? offers a series of provocative essays on nature and power, humanity, and capitalism. Including both well-established voices and younger scholars, the book challenges the conventional practice of dividing historical change and contemporary reality into “Nature” and “Society,” demonstrating the possibilities offered by a more nuanced and connective view of human environment-making, joined at every step with and within the biosphere. In distinct registers, the authors frame their discussions within a politics of hope that signal the possibilities for transcending capitalism, broadly understood as a “world-ecology” that joins nature, capital, and power as a historically evolving whole.

Hope and Grief in the Anthropocene: Re-ceonceptualising human-nature relationsHope and Grief

Lesley Head

The Anthropocene is a volatile and potentially catastrophic age demanding new ways of thinking about relations between humans and the nonhuman world. This book explores how responses to environmental challenges are hampered by a grief for a pristine and certain past, rather than considering the scale of the necessary socioeconomic change for a ‘future’ world. Conceptualisations of human-nature relations must recognise both human power and its embeddedness within material relations. Hope is a risky and complex process of possibility that carries painful emotions; it is something to be practised rather than felt. As centralised governmental solutions regarding climate change appear insufficient, intellectual and practical resources can be derived from everyday understandings and practices. Empirical examples from rural and urban contexts and with diverse research participants – indigenous communities, climate scientists, weed managers, suburban householders – help us to consider capacity, vulnerability and hope in new ways.

 

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