informal geologic chronological term
The Anthropocene is a proposed geological epoch dating from the commencement of significant human impact on Earth's geology and ecosystems, including, but not limited to, anthropogenic climate change.
- 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
- ... the cause of the sixth mass extinction is a very different type of cataclysm: expansion of one element of biodiversity to planetary dominance. In short, that is, expansion of the human enterprise—the explosion of the numbers of Homo sapiens and their domesticates and the near-instantaneous (in terms of geological time) burst of ecosystem altering and destroying technologies. That expansion has created a new geological epoch, dubbed the Anthropocene ... The term Anthropocene, meant to replace the formal, geologically accepted label of the Holocene epoch, encapsulates the consequences of humanity's activities on Earth's life-support systems. Indeed, humanity's planetary impact includes alterations of geological processes so profound as to leave stratigraphic signatures in multiple structures of the Earth's surface. These new structures are technofossils like plastics, metal junk, radioactive wastes and other synthetic material footprints ... Therefore, the term Anthropocene is increasingly penetrating the lexicon of not only the academic socio-sphere, but also society more generally (e.g. it is now an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary) and is useful for discussion of the sixth mass extinction.
- We are in an emergency situation in the Anthropocene epoch in which the disruption of the Earth system, particularly the climate, is threatening the planet as a place of human habitation. However, our political-economic system, capitalism, is geared primarily to the accumulation of capital, which prevents us from addressing this enormous challenge and accelerates the destruction.
- John Bellamy Foster, as quoted in A Resistance Movement for the Planet - Full Interview (July 02, 2017), Left Voice.
- Driven by the Anthropocene engine, human population has grown exponentially, and individual societies have approached collapse multiple times over the past 8,000 years. The disappearance of the Easter Island civilization and the collapse of the Mayan empire, for example, have been linked to the depletion of environmental resources as populations rose. The dramatic decline of the European population during the Black Death in the 1300s was a direct consequence of crowded and unsanitary living conditions that facilitated the spread of Yersenia pestis, or plague.
- Manfred Laubichler, 8 billion humans: How population growth and climate change are connected as the ‘Anthropocene engine’ transforms the planet. The Conversation, November 3, 2022.
- 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.
- Mark Maslin and Simon Lewis, "Why the Anthropocene began with European colonisation, mass slavery and the ‘great dying’ of the 16th century". The Conversation, June 25, 2020
- 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