The Anthropocene and the Rupture of Climate Change- Friday 5th June, 4.00pm, room C1, George Begg Building
Professor Clive Hamilton, Professor of Public Ethics, Charles Stuart University, Australia
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, consequences we are only beginning to understand. The concept grew out of the new discipline of Earth system science, which emerged in the last decades of the 20th century and supersedes environmental science. Earth System science is a ‘paradigm shift’ that meets resistance from much of the relevant scientific community. A number of scientists and social scientists have put forward interpretations that, mostly unwittingly, deflate the significance of the new epoch and the threat it poses to humankind and the Earth. It has variously been: (1) equated with the Holocene so reducing it to the familiar and unthreatening; (2) interpreted as just another instance of ecological or landscape change, if on a larger scale; (3) rendered banal by the discovery of historical precursors for the idea; and, (4) framed not as a catastrophe but as a welcome opportunity for humans to remake the Earth. Each of these can be shown to be a misreading arising either from a misunderstanding of Earth system science or from the imposition of an unscientific gloss.
Clive Hamilton is an Australian academic and author of a number of books, including Growth Fetish, Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change and Earthmasters: The Dawn of the Age of Climate Engineering. He is the co-editor of The Anthropocene and the Global Environmental Crisis: Rethinking Modernity in a New Epoch (Routledge 2015) and is now writing a monograph on the larger meaning of the Anthropocene. He is Professor of Public Ethics at Charles Stuart University in Canberra. He has held various visiting academic positions, including at Yale University, Sciences Po and the University of Oxford.
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