Though population is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed, scientists in the forefront of the Anthropocene project have repeatedly rejected any “all humans are to blame” narrative. (Photo: Doc Searls/flickr/cc)
Published on Tuesday, June 02, 2015 by Climate & Capitalism
The charge that Anthropocene scholars blame all of humanity for the actions of a small minority simply doesn’t hold water. Ecosocialists need to be positive contributors to Anthropocene discussions, not critics sniping from the sidelines.
by Ian Angus
According to Earth System scientists, the Earth has entered a new geological epoch that will be less stable and less hospitable to human life. Because the change is driven by human activity, the proposed name for the new epoch is Anthropocene – from the Greekanthropos, human being.
Recently, some critics have charged that the “Anthropocene narrative” blames humanity as a whole for these changes, ignoring major differences in the nature and extent of environmental change caused by different groups of people. Such concerns are understandable, but overstated – to a considerable degree, they seem to reflect preconceptions about what the Anthropocene concept might mean, rather than serious engagement with the work of the scientists who have defined it.
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It is no secret that some green theorists blame environmental problems on human beings as such. Our species has been labelled a plague, a virus, and a cancer; we’ve been compared to a swarm of locusts, voraciously consuming everything we see; we’re told that people are nature’s enemy, so only radical population reduction can prevent disaster. As Murray Bookchin wrote, Malthusian greens blame environmental crises on “a vague species called humanity – as though people of color were equatable with whites, women with men, the Third World with the First, the poor with the rich, and the exploited with their exploiters.”