The proposal that the impact of humanity on the planet has left a distinct footprint, even on the scale of geological time, has recently gained much ground. Global climate change, shifting global cycles of the weather, widespread pollution, radioactive fallout, plastic accumulation, species invasions, the mass extinction of species - these are just some of the many indicators that we will leave a lasting record in rock, the scientific basis for recognizing new time intervals in Earth's history. The "Anthropocene," as the proposed new epoch has been named, is regularly in the news.
Even with such robust evidence, the proposal to formally recognize our current time as the Anthropocene remains controversial both inside and outside the scholarly world, kindling intense debates. The reason is clear. The Anthropocene represents far more than just another interval of geologic time. Instead, the Anthropocene has emerged as a powerful new narrative, a concept through which age-old questions about the meaning of nature and even the nature of humanity are being revisited and radically revised.
This Very Short Introduction explains the science behind the Anthropocene and the many proposals about when to mark its beginning: the nuclear tests of the 1950s? The beginnings of agriculture? The origins of humans as a species? Erle Ellis considers the many ways that the Anthropocene's "evolving paradigm" is reshaping the sciences, stimulating the humanities, and foregrounding the politics of life on a planet transformed by humans. The Anthropocene remains a work in progress. Is this the story of an unprecedented planetary disaster? Or of newfound wisdom and redemption? Ellis offers an insightful discussion of our role in shaping the planet, and how this will influence our future on many fronts.
ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
In this Very Short Introduction, Professor Ellis illustrates the issues of establishing a new epoch beautifully and also gives an excellent history of the Anthropocene's development as an idea. * Jonathan Scafidi, Geoscientist *
[an] excellent, concise and foundational book * Jim Richardson, Eyes on Earth *
Ellis provides us with an authoritative introduction to the Anthropocene ... a fascinating and erudite book" * Leslie Sklair, LSE Review of Books *
An easy-to understand new release offers a compact introduction to the age of man * Tanja Traxler, Der Standard *
An excellent introduction to this still controversial concept * David Lorimer, Paradigm Explorer *
This is a welcome addition to the Very Short Introductions series and would be a cheap, useful addition as a reference work to anyone concerned as to how we are transforming our world. * Jonathan Cowie, Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation *
2: Earth System
3: Geologic Time
4: The Great Acceleration