248 pages, 2 maps, 1 table
The world faces an environmental crisis unprecedented in human history. Carbon dioxide levels have reached heights not seen for three million years, and the greatest mass extinction since the time of the dinosaurs appears to be underway. Such far-reaching changes suggest something remarkable: the beginning of a new geological epoch. It has been called the Anthropocene. The Birth of the Anthropocene shows how this epochal transformation puts the deep history of the planet at the heart of contemporary environmental politics. By opening a window onto geological time, the idea of the Anthropocene changes our understanding of present-day environmental destruction and injustice. Linking new developments in earth science to the insights of world historians, Jeremy Davies shows that as the Anthropocene epoch begins, politics and geology have become inextricably entwined.
"An excellent forthcoming book."
– Robert Macfarlane, The Guardian
"I can't recall another book that positions the present global crisis in Earth's deep history so well, in a form that can be readily understood by non-specialists. Every ecosocialist should read it."
– Ian Angus, Climate and Capitalism
"The world that all humans in all history knew has ended, and something new has started. This book can help you start thinking about what that event – the biggest event in our lifetimes – really means."
– Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
"This is the best general introductory – and yet original and thoughtful – book I have read that explains to readers the political significance of the term Anthropocene."
– Dipesh Chakrabarty, author of The Calling of History: Sir Jadunath Sarkar and His Empire of Truth
"The Birth of the Anthropocene offers a very striking argument about how we should and should not use the idea of the Anthropocene. What is more, it is beautifully written and very clear – a real joy to read."
– Daniel Lord Smail, Harvard University
"Jeremy Davies carefully explicates precisely what is at stake in the notion of the Anthropocene for environmental politics and for humanities and social science scholarship."
– Ben Dibley, University of Western Sydney, Australia
"Our species is causing such a drastic shift in Earth's climate that we've brought about a new epoch in the planet's geological evolution. Christened the Anthropocene, the man-made shift is effecting every other living creature with which we share our planet. As University of Leeds English lit lecturer Jeremy Davies describes in The Birth of the Anthropocene, two key facts bear out this grim concept: carbon dioxide levels are the highest they've been in three million years, and we are in the midst of the largest mass extinction event since the cataclysm that decimated the dinosaurs. Even as the concept of the Anthropocene can help humanity frame the crisis into which we've plunged ourselves and the rest of the biosphere, doing so cannot provide a solution to the problem. 'It is a way of seeing, not a manifesto,' Davies writes. 'By providing [environmentally conscious citizens] with a standpoint from which to observe the winding course of earth history, the Anthropocene creates an opportunity to comprehend the environmental calamity in its full dimensions.' Addressing the realities of this new epoch, the author suggests, falls squarely on the shoulders of politicians and the activists and scientists whom they rely upon for information."
– Bob Grant, The Scientist
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Jeremy Davies teaches in the School of English at the University of Leeds.