Living in the anthropocene Earth in the age of humans

Book - 2017

A collection of thirty-two essays by leading thinkers across the disciplines. These essays explore the Anthropocene from scientific, anthropological, social, artistic, and economic points of view. They seek to understand the drivers of human-induced environmental change as well as how people and planetary systems are adapting to such change. Each writer offers invaluable insight into Earth's future as the Anthropocene accelerates.

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Washington, DC : Smithsonian Books, in association with Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press [2017]
Physical Description
x, 198 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Other Authors
Elizabeth Kolbert (-), Edward O. Wilson, Richard B. Alley
  • Foreword / Elizabeth Kolbert
  • Introduction / W. John Kress and Jeffrey K. Stine
  • A changing planet. The advent of the Anthropocene / J. R. McNeill
  • Thinking like a mountain in the Anthropocene / Scott L. Wing
  • The underwater Anthropocene / Douglass J. McCauley
  • What will it mean to be human? / Rick Potts
  • Rethinking economic growth / Paula Caballero and Carter J. Brandon
  • Drivers of change. The fire that made the future / Stephen J. Pyne
  • A new dream of the Earth / Wade Davis
  • Locating ourselves in relation to the natural world / Lindsay L. Clarkson
  • Temperate forests: A tale of the Anthropocene / Sean M. McMahon
  • Urban nature / Human nature / Peter Del Tredici
  • Atmospherics and the Anthropocene / Kelly Chance
  • Beyond the biosphere: Expanding the limits of the human world / Lisa Ruth Band
  • Responding to change. Archaeology and the future of our planet / Torben C. Rick
  • Living on a changing planet: Why indigenous voices matter / Igor Krupnik
  • Black and green: The forgotten commitment to sustainability / Lonnie G. Bunch III
  • Forest succession and human agency in an uncertain future / Robin L. Chazdon
  • Ocean 2.0 / J. Emmett Duffy
  • The Earth is a garden / Ari Novy, Peter H. Raven, and Holly H. Shimizu
  • Human health in the Anthropocene / George E. Luber
  • Visual culture. The city in the sea: Alexis Rockman's Anthropocene imaginings / Joanna Marsh
  • African art and the Anthropocene / Karen E. Milbourne
  • Why polar bears? Seeing the Arctic anew / Subhankar Banerjee
  • The return of the boomerang / Luc Jacquet
  • Filmmaking in the Anthropocene / John Grabowska
  • Picturing planetary peril: Visual media and the environmental crisis / Finis Dunaway
  • The way forward. Dragons in the greenhouse: The value of knowledge and the danger of uncertainty / Richard B. Alley
  • Why scientists and engineers must work together / G. Wayne Clough
  • Hazards to our heritage: choices and solutions / Corine Wegner
  • The unequal anthropocene / Rob Nixon
  • The global commons / Naoko Ishii
  • Can we redefine the Anthropocene? / Thomas E. Lovejoy
  • Afterword / Edward O. Wilson.
Review by Booklist Reviews

The authors of this essay collection propose that the changes wrought by humans have created a new era, the Anthropocene, or the age of man. Arranged in sections from "A Changing Planet" to "The Way Forward," the pieces range in quality and originality (those addressing climate change necessarily present known facts), with most of them very good and some excellent. Overall, the book takes the pragmatic view that we are in uncharted and precarious waters, and our job is to find a way forward. Also refreshing are looks at less studied issues, such as the effects of globalism on indigenous populations and how artists are portraying and influencing this new world. These essays are solid introductions for those seeking more awareness of the world around them; this audience will appreciate the further-reading list provided. For analysis of more personal changes caused by globalism, an ideal companion to this macro view is Dan Barber's The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food (2014). Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Choice Reviews

Living in the Anthropocene is an edited collection of 32 essays representing a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives on the Anthropocene, the name given to the current geological epoch in which human activities are considered a major agent of change on our planet. While the Anthropocene includes anthropogenic climate change, the term encompasses a much broader range of environmental shifts, including changes in agricultural practices, land use, and ocean biogeochemistry. Naturally, most research on the Anthropocene has been done by physical scientists. This text broadens how we think of the Anthropocene by complementing the traditional physical scientific approach with perspectives from leading scholars in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. The resulting collection provides a uniquely comprehensive and easy-to-follow perspective on the critical global transformation that is taking place. While there is some discussion of solutions toward the end of the collection, this is really a book about defining the Anthropocene and understanding the processes that collectively led us to this point. The wide-ranging perspectives of the contributors should broaden the view of any reader on what it means to live in the Anthropocene. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers.--J. Schoof, Southern Illinois UniversityJustin T. SchoofSouthern Illinois University Justin T. Schoof Choice Reviews 55:09 May 2018 Copyright 2018 American Library Association.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In this collection of interdisciplinary essays, edited by curator of botany Kress (National Museum of Natural History; The Weeping Goldsmith: Discoveries in the Secret Land of Myanmar) and curator for environmental history Stine (National Museum of Natural History; Mixing the Waters: Environment, Politics, and the Building of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway), experts address human-driven biogeochemical changes to the earth. The Anthropocene is the epoch defined by human alterations to the environment, as opposed to past environmental changes such as the ice ages. The exact start of this era is up for debate (and discussed in some of the essays), but it continues to the present day. The pieces are grouped into five areas: changes to the planet, causes of these transformations, human response, the role of visual culture as changes occur, and a look at the socioeconomic changes and environmental management needed to move forward. Color plates of the artwork discussed in the chapter on visual culture are included. The contributors come from a wide range of disciplines, such as archaeology, anthropology, economics, history, and art history, providing readers with different perspectives on the subject. VERDICT An excellent offering for those interested in environmental science and climate change.—Margaret Henderson, Ramona, CA Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Kress (The Weeping Goldsmith) and Stine (America's Forested Wetlands)—curators at the National Museum of Natural History and National Museum of American History, respectively—collect 31 essays representing a broad array of disciplinary approaches to the topic of the Anthropocene. Scientists, humanists, and artists offer their perspectives on the sort of future they envision while providing advice on the action needed to help shape that future. Though the voices are diverse, three major themes emerge. First, most of the authors are hopeful that there is still time for positive action. Second, despite that hope, most opine that time is short and meaningful action must be taken soon. Third, all agree that the future will look quite different from the present, from both social and ecological perspectives. For example, filmmaker John Grabowska explains the need to balance hope and despair in environmental films: "Natural history films must illuminate the realities of living in the Anthropocene while reminding audiences that the natural world is precious and valuable." For their part, botanists Ari Novy, Peter H. Raven, and Holly H. Shimizu discuss possibilities associated with urban agriculture, which in addition to its ecological benefits may serve to build "community cohesion." With so many perspectives present, there's something of interest to a wide array of readers. (Oct.) Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Explores the causes and implications of the anthropocene--the age of humans--from scientific, anthropological, social, and economic points of view.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Explores the causes and implications of the Anthropocene, or Age of Humans, from multiple points of view including anthropological, scientific, social, artistic, and economic.Although we arrived only recently in Earth's timeline, humans are driving major changes to the planet's ecosystems. Even now, the basic requirements for human life--air, water, shelter, food, nature, and culture--are rapidly transforming the planet as billions of people compete for resources. These changes have become so noticeable on a global scale that scientists believe we are living in a new chapter in Earth's story: the Anthropocene, or Age of Humans. Living in the Anthropocene: Earth in the Age of Humans is a vital look at this era. The book contextualizes the Anthropocene by presenting paleontological, historical, and contemporary views of various human effects on Earth. It discusses environmental and biological systems that have been changed and affected; the causes of the Anthropocene, such as agricultural spread, pollution, and urbanization; how societies are responding and adapting to these changes; how these changes have been represented in art, film, television, and literature; and finally, offers a look toward the future of our environment and our own lives.