Noel Castree, in an article published on the Climate Council website, reports that a British-led working group of experts has this week delivered the news to a geology conference in Capetown that we have officially entered the Anthropocene (‘’cene’: period of time, anthro: humans = ‘the age of humans’). In other words, the geological age characterised by humans’ influence on the planet, that has significantly altered the character of the entire hydrosphere, cryosphere, biosphere, lithosphere and atmosphere. Actually, the group said, the Anthropocene epoch began in 1950 – the start of the era of nuclear bomb tests, disposable plastics and the human population boom.
Humans have made an indelible mark on our one and only home. The Earth system has been altered qualitatively, in ways that call into question our very survival over the coming few centuries. The post-1950 period saw the “Great Acceleration” take place, when a range of factors – from human population numbers, to disposable plastics, to nitrogen fertiliser – began to increase exponentially.
Even more than the concept of global warming, the Anthropocene is provocative because it implies that our current way of life, especially in wealthy parts of the world, is utterly unsustainable. Large companies who make profits from environmental despoliation – oil multinationals, chemical companies, car makers and countless others – have much to lose if the concept becomes linked with political agendas devoted to things like degrowth and decarbonisation.
If “Anthropocene sceptics” gain the same momentum as climate deniers have enjoyed, they will sow seeds of confusion into what ought to be a mature public debate about how humans can transform their relationship with the Earth. The Anthropocene deserves to become part of our lexicon – a way we understand who we are, what we’re doing and what our responsibilities are as a species – so long as we remember that not all humans are equal contributors to our planetary maladies, with many being victims.
Around the world, churches are become acutely aware of the environmental crisis. Our precious planet is at risk. In the Season of Creation we celebrate Christ together with creation, we face the ecological crisis with Christ, and we serve Christ in the healing of creation. And we give earth a voice.
In September, the 9.30am community will be exploring Season of Creation at the 9.30am services, using the book Water, Wind, Earth, and Fire: The Christian Practice of Praying with the Elements by Christine Valters Painter.
We look forward to the creative and thought provoking services!