informal geologic chronological term

The term Anthropocene designates an epoch that is claimed to start when human activities began to have a significant global impact on Earth's ecosystems.


  • Through our predatory behaviors, systems of exploitation, and growth-oriented societies, we have lived in contradiction to one another, other species, and the planet for so long that we have brought about a new geologic epoch. We have hastened the end of the Holocene Era, which endured over the last ten thousand years, and thereby have precipitated the arrival of the Anthropocene Era–whose very name proclaims our global dominance and the severe environmental impact of Homo sapiens. In our current Anthropocene period of runaway climate change, the sixth great extinction crisis in earth's history, resource scarcity, global capitalism, aggressive neoliberalism, economic crashes, increasing centralization of power, rampant militarism, chronic warfare, and suffering and struggle everywhere, we have come to a historical crossroads where momentous choices have to be made and implemented.
    • Steven Best, The Politics of Total Liberation: Revolution for the 21st Century (2014), pp. xii-xiii
  • Our planetary impacts have increased since our earliest ancestors stepped down from the trees, at first by hunting some animal species to extinction. Much later, following the development of farming and agricultural societies, we started to change the climate. Yet Earth only truly became a “human planet” with the emergence of something quite different. This was capitalism, which itself grew out of European expansion in the 15th and 16th century and the era of colonisation and subjugation of indigenous peoples all around the world.
  • The Anthropocene makes for an easy story. Easy, because it does not challenge the naturalized inequalities, alienation, and violence inscribed in modernity’s strategic relations of power and production. It is an easy story to tell because it does not ask us to think about these relations at all. The mosaic of human activity in the web of life is reduced to an abstract Humanity: a homogeneous acting unit. Inequality, commodification, imperialism, patriarchy, racial formations, and much more, have been largely removed from consideration. ... Are we really living in the Anthropocene, with its return to a curiously Eurocentric vista of humanity, and its reliance on well-worn notions of resource- and technological-determinism? Or are we living in the Capitalocene, the historical era shaped by relations privileging the endless accumulation of capital?
    • Jason W. Moore, Capitalism in the Web of Life (2015), p. 206

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