The Anthropocene and the Rupture of Climate Change

OCTF seminar in partnership with agile-ox

Earth System scientists believe the Earth has entered a new epoch in the Geological Time Scale, the Anthropocene or ‘the Age of Man’, in which humans now rival the great forces of nature in determining the geological trajectory of the planet. The new epoch, driven mainly by human-induced climate change, represents a rupture in Earth history with profound consequences for humankind and the Earth System itself. The concept grew out of the new discipline of Earth System science, a ‘paradigm shift’. A number of scientists and social scientists have put forward interpretations of the Anthropocene that, mostly unconsciously, deflate the significance of the new epoch and the threat it poses to humankind and the Earth. It has variously been equated with the Holocene, interpreted as just another instance of ecological or landscape change, rendered banal by the discovery of historical ‘precursors’, and framed as a welcome opportunity for humans to remake the Earth. Each of these can be shown to be a misreading of Earth System science.