Altered Earth aims to get the Anthropocene right in three senses. With essays by leading scientists, it highlights the growing consensus that our planet entered a dangerous new state in the mid-twentieth century. Second, it gets the Anthropocene right in human terms, bringing together a range of leading authors to explore, in fiction and non-fiction, our deep past, global conquest, inequality, nuclear disasters, and space travel. Finally, this landmark collection presents what hope might look like in this seemingly hopeless situation, proposing new political forms and mutualistic cities. 'Right' in this book means being as accurate as possible in describing the physical phenomenon of the Anthropocene; as balanced as possible in weighing the complex human developments, some willed and some unintended, that led to this predicament; and as just as possible in envisioning potential futures.
Preface / Dipesh Chakrabarty
Introduction: The growing anthropocene consensus / Julia Adeney Thomas
Part I. Strata and Stories:
1. Science: Old and new patterns of the anthropocene / Jan Zalasiewicz
2. Humanities and social sciences: Human stories and the anthropocene earth system / Julia Adeney Thomas
Part II. One Anthropocene: Many Stories:
3. Earth system science: Gravity, the earth system and the anthropocene / Will Steffen
4. Deep History and disease: Germs and humanity's rise to planetary dominance / Kyle Harper
5. Anthropology: Colonialism, indigeneity, and wind power in the anthropocene / Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer
6. The ascent of the anthropoi: a story / Amitav Ghosh
7. Politics in the anthropocene / Manuel Arias-Maldonado
8. Very recent history and the nuclear anthropocene / Kate Brown
9. Stratigraphy: Finding global markers in a small Canadian lake / Francine McCarthy
10. Curating the anthropocene at Berlin's house of world culture / Bernd Scherer
Part III. Future Habitations:
11. Anthropocene ethics, as seen from a Mars mission: a story / Clive Hamilton
12. Mutualistic cities of the near future / Mark Williams, Julia Adeney Thomas, Gavin Brown, Minal Pathak, Moya Burns, Will Steffen, John Clarkson and Jan Zalasiewicz
Afterword / Jürgen Renn and Christoph Rosol
Julia Adeney Thomas is an intellectual historian of Japan and the Anthropocene, and Associate Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana.
"We all remember hearing the term the 'Anthropocene' for the first time, and the way it suddenly catalyzed fresh conversation between human and physical scientists. Julia Adeney Thomas and her distinguished colleagues rightly call us all on matters of accuracy as well as analysis. The stakes are too high not to get the Anthropocene right: we have a better chance of doing so in the light of this landmark book."
– Alison Bashford, Laureate Centre for History & Population, UNSW, Sydney
"This book is a welcome intervention in the Anthropocene discourse, one that takes the science seriously while also positing the multiplicity of visions, voices, and approaches in the humanities as essential to understanding the profound predicament of ongoing planetary destabilization."
– Meehan Crist, writer in residence in Biological Sciences, Columbia University
"Altered Earth is a dazzling epistemological experiment that weaves creative genres with the natural and human sciences to illuminate our collective planetary predicament. I have rarely encountered a more sensitively choreographed account of the empirical, cultural, socio-political, and moral challenges posed by the Anthropocene. A tour de force that jolts us even as it resists a foreclosed future for planet earth."
– Debjani Ganguly, University of Virginia
"Getting the Anthropocene 'right' means taking seriously the diverse voices rippling outwards from the challenge of stratigraphic and Earth System science, to prioritize a planetary perspective. This brilliant volume tells many stories about what this could look like, incorporating work that bridges divisions between the physical sciences, history, politics, and literature, but which does not artificially flatten out their differences. The result is both experimental, and engaging."
– Duncan Kelly, University of Cambridge