The Anthropocene

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    The Anthropocene is a proposed new epoch to be added to the Geological Time Scale describing the very recent rupture in the functioning of the Earth System as a whole arising from the impact of human activity. The kinds of human activity capable of disrupting the Earth System have to be separated from those that merely alter the landscape or interfere in an ecosystem. The concept required the emergence of Earth System science in the 1980s and 1990s. Other scientific approaches have misconstrued it, often in debates over the new epoch׳s starting date. It involves the unique features of complex systems, and has been enriched by climate science. The idea of the Anthropocene has led to research integrating stratigraphy with Earth System science. Social scientists, noting the remarkable convergence of human and natural history in the Anthropocene, have advanced various critiques of the idea, most of them reflecting a deep epistemological divide over the nature and scope of kinds of knowledge. Humanists build on the science as given, while posthumanists view the Anthropocene as a vindication of their criticism of notions of human agency and Cartesian dualism. The critique of anthropocentrism is applied to the Anthropocene, both the term and even the ‘objective’ nature of it.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of ecology
    EditorsBrian Fath
    Place of PublicationAmsterdam, Netherlands
    Number of pages16
    ISBN (Electronic)9780444641304
    ISBN (Print)9780444637680
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


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