The space between Earth system and ‘the world’
If you have been looking around for nature and having a hard time finding something untouched by human action, it may be because you are living in the Anthropocene: a new era being considered as a geological turning point in which humans are significant drivers of the Earth system. A time in Earth’s history when humans rival the great forces of nature. This site reflects on the political, ethical and ecological space that we move within when make claims about the kind of thing the Earth system (and its constituent objects) is and normative claims about what things are for.
But not all humans are a geologic force.
Approaching the idea of the anthropocene is aided by attending to how we picture the world (hence the word-play: anthropo-scene). As the Bruntland Report on Sustainable Development put it: The earth is one but the world is not. In this sense, it is important to emphasize that the way we make up the world does not come from nowhere; we bring our ways of classifying and ordering things with us when we transition into new understandings. So when the old idea of “nature” is no longer workable and we look for something else, we don’t start from scratch. Similarly, the very project of aligning “worlds” to “earth” issues from a world. In this respect I have found it hard to disabuse myself of the new riddle of induction posed by Nelson Goodman and his idea that “worldmaking as we know it always starts from worlds already on hand; the making is a remaking.”