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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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VIII. Pedia Sapiens: A New Genesis Future

1. An Anthropocene to Earthropocene Moment

Novacek, Michael. Terra. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2007. Reviewed more in the Greatest Earth section, its subtitle is Our 100-Million-Year-Old Ecosystem – And The Threats That Now Put It at Risk.

Oppermann, Serpil and Serenella Iovino, eds. Environmental Humanities: Voices from the Anthropocene. London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016. The editors are Hacettepe University, Ankara, and University of Turin literary scholars with several volumes to their credit, search Amazon. Some chapters here are Posthuman Environs by Jeff Cohen, Where is Feminism in the Environmental Humanities by Greta Gaard, The Extraordinary Strata of the Anthropocene by Jan Zalasiewicz, Worldview Remediation in the First Century of the New Millennium by J. Baird Callicott, and How the Earth Speaks Now by Wendy Wheeler. We also note a 2014 collection Material Ecocriticism by the editors, re second quote. See also The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities. edited by Ursula, Heise, et al (Routledge, 2017). But the postmodern academic mindset of such well intended works seems to daunt an effective message because it cannot imagine a greater, encompassing creative reality from which any salutary identity, purpose and guidance might be gained.

At a time when the narrative and theoretical threads of the environmental humanities are more entwined than ever with the scientific, ethical, and political challenges of the global ecological crisis, this volume invites us to rethink the Anthropocene, the posthuman, and the environmental from various cross-disciplinary viewpoints. The book enriches the environmental debate with new conceptual tools and revitalizes thematic and methodological collaborations in the trajectory of ecocriticism and the environmental humanities. Alliances between the humanities and the social and natural sciences are vital in addressing and finding viable solutions to our planetary predicaments. (publisher)

Material Ecocriticism offers new ways to analyze language and reality, human and nonhuman life, mind and matter, without falling into well-worn paths of thinking. Bringing ecocriticism closer to the material turn, the contributions to this landmark volume focus on material forces and substances, the agency of things, processes, narratives and stories, and making meaning out of the world. This broad-ranging reflection on contemporary human experience and expression provokes new understandings of the planet to which we are intimately connected.

Purdy, Jedediah. After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2015. So as to engage this rampant era of technological human globalization, a Duke University professor of law seeks to identify and scope a suitable democratic abidance. The old representative modes won’t do any more, if they ever did (consider the current 2016 election). A novel turn is deftly cast as “post-humanism” whence human beings need integrate and assimilate individual selves into a supportive natural ecology. In regard, threads of a “new animism, ecocentrism, politics of nature” in as modes of a dynamic autopoietic self-organization are recommended. The author, just 40 years old, is seen as one of the brightest scholars to come along, so maybe these insights will gain the notice and implementation they deserve.

Nature no longer exists apart from humanity. Henceforth, the world we will inhabit is the one we have made. Geologists have called this new planetary epoch the Anthropocene, the Age of Humans. The geological strata we are now creating record industrial emissions, industrial-scale crop pollens, and the disappearance of species driven to extinction. Climate change is planetary engineering without design. These facts of the Anthropocene are scientific, but its shape and meaning are questions for politics―a politics that does not yet exist. After Nature develops a politics for this post-natural world. The Anthropocene demands that we draw on all these legacies and go beyond them. With human and environmental fates now inseparable, environmental politics will become either more deeply democratic or more unequal and inhumane. Where nothing is pure, we must create ways to rally devotion to a damaged and ever-changing world.

Rhodes, Lynn. Verge of Collapse? Survival of Civilization in the Anthropocene. Comparative Civilizations Review. 72/Spring, 2015. The environmentalist author was formally director of the California State Parks. Herein he graphically lays out a path to an alternative Ecological Civilization which draws on Andrew Targowski’s model (search) as a measured response to Jared Diamond’s clarion 2011 work Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.

Rockstrom, Johan, et al. Climate Change: The necessary, the possible and the desirable Earth League climate statement on the implications for climate policy from the 5th IPCC Assessment. Earth’s Future. 2/12, 2014. In this new online journal hosted by the American Geophysical Union, thirty leading environmental scientists such as Hans Schellnhuber, April Humble, Sander van der Leeuw, and Nicholas Stern, issue this manifesto. As the abstracts details, while biospheric weather has been relatively stable for some past millennia, it is now in a stressed state due to human Anthropocene civilizational impacts. This reality, which must be acknowledged and faced, then requires “a necessary and possible Global Transformation” to a beneficial sustainable homeostasis if we are to survive and flourish.

The development of human civilisations has occurred at a time of stable climate. This climate stability is now threatened by human activity. The rising global climate risk occurs at a decisive moment for world development. World nations are currently discussing a global development agenda consequent to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which ends in 2015. It is increasingly possible to envisage a world where absolute poverty is largely eradicated within one generation and where ambitious goals on universal access and equal opportunities for dignified lives are adopted. These grand aspirations for a world population approaching or even exceeding nine billion in 2050 is threatened by substantial global environmental risks and by rising inequality. Research shows that development gains, in both rich and poor nations, can be undermined by social, economic and ecological problems caused by human-induced global environmental change. Climate risks, and associated changes in marine and terrestrial ecosystems that regulate the resilience of the climate system, are at the forefront of these global risks. We, as citizens with a strong engagement in Earth system science and socio-ecological dynamics, share the vision of a more equitable and prosperous future for the world, yet we also see threats to this future from shifts in climate and environmental processes. Without collaborative action now, our shared Earth system may not be able to sustainably support a large proportion of humanity in the decades ahead. (Abstract)

Rodriques, Pablo and Catarina Lira. The Bio-Evolutionary Anthropocene Hypothesis. Biological Theory. Online July, 2019. With a subtitle of Rethinking the Role of Human-Induced Novel Organisms in Evolution, Instituto de Pesquisas Jardim Botanico do Rio de Janeiro bioecologists consider ways that novel organisms will evolve as a result of our invasive human-induced “Anthroposphere” as it impacts and changes every fauna and flora bioregion.

Anthropogenic changes in the biosphere, driven mainly by human cultural habits and technological advances, are altering the direction of evolution on Earth, with ongoing and permanent changes modifying uncountable interactions between organisms, the environment, and humankind itself. While numerous species may go extinct, others will be favored due to strong human influences. The Bio-Evolutionary Anthropocene hypothesizes that directly or indirectly human-driven organisms, including alien species, hybrids, and genetically modified organisms will have major roles in the evolution of life in all habitats. We predict that humankind and novel organisms will interact within a strong evolutionary bias that will lead to unexpected, and probably irreversible, outcomes of life on our planet. (Abstract excerpt)

Schellnhuber, Hans Joachim, et al, eds. Earth System Analysis for Sustainability. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004. A 2003 Dahlem Workshop Report with four main sections: Long-term Geosphere-Biosphere Coevolution and Astrobiology; Possible States and Modes of Operation of the Quaternary (recent past) Earth System; Earth System Dynamics in the Anthropocene (present); and Sustainability. Its working perspective is an aware Gaia attaining its own knowledge which then need be intentionally applied by and to its invasive human phase. This activity constitutes a “second Copernican Revolution” to refocus on Earth as more organismic than clockwork, as a “single dynamical system far from thermodynamic equilibrium.” While a microbial stage is seen as widespread in the universe, technological intelligence is possibly quite rare. While precious Earth need select itself as a successful center of cosmic life, the tacit paradigm for the conferees remains an indifferent, expiring universe, which undercuts the project. A number of papers are noted elsewhere.

If humanity is to achieve a transition to sustainability, it will likely require a fundamental shift in the prevailing view of the world: from linear, compartmentalizable, mechanical to complex, interconnected, living. In this, Gaia may provide some hope and some answers. (431)

Shoshitaishvili, Boris. From Anthropocene to Noosphere: The Great Acceleration.. Earth's Future. 9/2, 2020. After a survey of both these models including original sources such as V. Vernadsky and P. Teilhard for global reason, a UC Berkeley postdoc anthropologist defines a novel, helpful contrast between them. In clear relief, an emphasis on matter and forces leads to despair without a common mindfulness of cooperation and mitigation.

The complex set of human‐driven global, social, technological, and environmental changes intensifying dramatically since 1950 has been identified as the “Great Acceleration.” This period of time represents a radical shift in our collective relationship to each other as well as to the Earth system as a whole. In this article I consider two major paradigms now taking shape to offer different perspectives on the Great Acceleration: The Anthropocene and the Noosphere. I explore the scientific‐intellectual traditions from which each paradigm derives and contrast their nearly opposite evaluations of global transformation. The Anthropocene has emerged as the paradigm of rupture, materiality, and warning; the Noosphere is about development, mind/culture, and hope. I also attempt to bringing the two divergent views closer together into a more unified and balanced vision of planetary change. (Abstract)

Sigurdsson, Geir. Anthropocosmic Processes in the Anthropocene: Revisiting Quantum Mechanics vs. Chinese Cosmology Comparison. Bala, Arun and Prasenjit Duara, eds. The Bright Dark Ages: Comparative and Connective Perspectives. Leiden: Brill, 2016. In our own dark bright age, historical eras can be studied with a global scope and veracity not possible before. This notable chapter by a University of Iceland scholar alludes that quantum phenomena as dynamic “inter-acting agencies” is akin to ancient Asian views of an integral organic reality with a yin-yang complementarity. Life is inherent in matter via an inner autopoietic drive, variously as Qi or Li energies. It is advised that our Anthropocene age might be better understood, and mitigated, by these Anthropocosmic relational ecologies which accord with a living nature. The whole volume considers Joseph Needham’s question why the west became technological while China remained contemplative, which might align with relative left and right brain hemispheres as Complementary of Civilizations conveys.

Steffen, Will, et al. The Anthropocene: Conceptual and Historical Perspectives. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A. 369/842, 2011. Climatologist Steffen, with historian Jacques Grinevald, Nobel chemist Paul Crutzen, initial proposer of the term, and historian John McNeill, enter a lead paper in a special, much reported, issue on the realization that recent centuries of human migrations with technological, industrial impacts so alter the earth as to constitute a new epochal era. Prime precursors are seen as Vladimir Vernadsky and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and Paris colleagues from the 1920s. By this purview, Earth-system qualities such as climate change, biodiversity, nitrogen and phosphorous cycles, ozone loss, ocean acidification, atmospheric aerosols, and chemical pollution, as if a planetary physiology, can be brought into a novel relief. Typical papers discuss emergent dynamics of the climate-economy system, ocean changes, societal responses (Crispin Tickell), Quaternary analogues for greenhouse warming, and so on.

The human imprint on the global environment has now become so large and active that it rivals some of the great forces of Nature in its impact on the functioning of the Earth system. Although global-scale human influence on the environment has been recognized since the 1800s, the term Anthropocene, introduced about a decade ago, has only recently become widely, but informally, used in the global change research community. However, the term has yet to be accepted formally as a new geological epoch or era in Earth history. In this paper, we put forward the case for formally recognizing the Anthropocene as a new epoch in Earth history, arguing that the advent of the Industrial Revolution around 1800 provides a logical start date for the new epoch. We then explore recent trends in the evolution of the Anthropocene as humanity proceeds into the twenty-first century, focusing on the profound changes to our relationship with the rest of the living world and on early attempts and proposals for managing our relationship with the large geophysical cycles that drive the Earth’s climate system. (842)

Both Teilhard and Vernadsky were readers of Suess’s La Face de la Terre and the celebrated French philosopher Henri Bergson. In his 1907 master book L’Evolution Créatrice, Bergson wrote: ‘A century has elapsed since the invention of the steam engine, and we are only just beginning to feel the depths of the shock it gave us. . . . In thousands of years, when, seen from the distance, only the broad lines of the present age will still be visible, our wars and our revolutions will count for little, even supposing they are remembered at all; but the steam engine, and the procession of inventions of every kind that accompanied it, will perhaps be spoken of as we speak of the bronze or of the chipped stone of pre-historic times: it will serve to define an age.’ (844)

Steffen, Will, et al. The Anthropocene: From Global Change to Planetary Stewardship. AMBIO. 40/739, 2011. AMBIO is a journal of environmental concerns from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Sixteen authorities including Carole Crumley, Jan Zalasiewicz, Hans Schellnhuber, Katherine Richardson, and Marten Scheffer take a long integral view of this nascent Earth era “from hunter-gatherers to a global geophysical force” to again call for an imperative phase of informed, intentional, and respectful “planetary stewardship.” But consider the 2012 American election. While the evidence and urgency for such a response could not be clearer – just look out the window – vested cultural, religious, conceptual baggage overrules to impede, confound and daunt. My paper “Environmental Ethics and the Question of Cosmic Purpose” in the August 1994 issue of that referred journal worried that we will not be moved achieve a living, sustainable bioplanet in a moribund universe of mechanist cosmology. Some two decades on, nature is “nothing” says physics, so the remedial project continues with this sourcebook website, and profound alarms as the above manifesto.

Over the past century, the total material wealth of humanity has been enhanced. However, in the twenty-first century, we face scarcity in critical resources, the degradation of ecosystem services, and the erosion of the planet’s capability to absorb our wastes. Equity issues remain stubbornly difficult to solve. This situation is novel in its speed, its global scale and its threat to the resilience of the Earth System. The advent of the Anthropence, the time interval in which human activities now rival global geophysical processes, suggests that we need to fundamentally alter our relationship with the planet we inhabit. Many approaches could be adopted, ranging from geo-engineering solutions that purposefully manipulate parts of the Earth System to becoming active stewards of our own life support system. The Anthropocene is a reminder that the Holocene, during which complex human societies have developed, has been a stable, accommodating environment and is the only state of the Earth System that we know for sure can support contemporary society. The need to achieve effective planetary stewardship is urgent. As we go further into the Anthropocene, we risk driving the Earth System onto a trajectory toward more hostile states from which we cannot easily return. (Abstract)

What are the implications of this complex systems perspective for the future of humanity? Will our attempts to achieve effective planetary stewardship slow and then halt the current trajectory further into the Anthropocene, eventually steering the Earth System back toward Holocene-like conditions and, in so doing, move contemporary civilization toward a new state of sustainability? Or is it already too late to return to a world of the Holocene that may be already lost? Is the Anthropocene, a one-way trip for humanity to an uncertain future in a new, much warmer—and very different—stable state of the Earth System? While these questions demand a greatly enhanced research effort, they reinforce the urgency for effective Earth System stewardship to maintain a global environment within which humanity can continue to develop in a humane and respectful fashion. (756)

Steffen, Will, et al. Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 115/8252, 2018. An entry by 16 leadings authorities, cited below, which could be the strongest, and maybe the last definitive call to action about major global climate change. As extreme floods, fires, storms, temperatures and events occur, increase in intensity, and tip toward a new attractor state, a case for an abrupt catastrophe is made. The epochal context spans from a Holocene interglacial cycle to this late day and ahead to a resilient Stabilized Earth or terminal Hothouse Earth options. But may we add, a cultural quandary not referred to much conflates the issue. For an example, an Amazon search for a 2016 book The Great Acceleration brings up two main hits. One is by environmentalists John McNeill and Peter Engelke about this intensifying human era, but the other is by evangelist Michael Fickess which lauds how such trib

We explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a “Hothouse Earth” pathway even as human emissions are reduced. Crossing the threshold would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2 million years and to sea levels significantly higher than at any time in the Holocene. We examine the evidence that such a threshold might exist and where it might be. Collective human action is required to steer the Earth System away from a potential threshold and stabilize it in a habitable interglacial-like state. Such action entails stewardship of the entire Earth System—biosphere, climate, and societies—and could include decarbonization of the global economy, enhancement of biosphere carbon sinks, behavioral changes, technological innovations, new governance arrangements, and transformed social values. (Abstract)

The authors are Will Steffen, Johan Rockström, Katherine Richardson, Timothy M. Lenton, Carl Folke, Diana Liverman, Colin P. Summerhayes, Anthony D. Barnosky, Sarah E. Cornell, Michel Crucifix, Jonathan F. Donges, Ingo Fetzer, Steven J. Lade, Marten Scheffer, Ricarda Winkelmann, and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. It was edited by William C. Clark.

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