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The Anthropocene, which is suggested by Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer in 2000, is the name of proposed era in which human activities have significant effects on the earth’s geology and its environment (Lewis et al., 2015). The concept Anthropocene has been developed and explored by various discipline, including atmospheric chemistry, climatology, oceanography, and geology, (Hamilton et al, 2015). “The Anthropocene” is now a buzzword in international geoscience circles and commanding the attention of various social scientists and humanists (Castree, 2014).   

According to statement of John P. Rafferty, Anthropocene is derived from Greek and means the “recent age of man”. The Greek words anthropo, for “man,” and cene “new.”  The Anthropocene concept possesses an uncommon grandeur or capaciousness. This was more than a “pure” science concept, it significantly amplified the socio-economic, cultural and political implications of the climate change idea (Castree, 2014). Over the last decade the concept of the Anthropocene seems to have spread virally, crossing the boundaries between the natural and social sciences and humanities with remarkable ease(Barry et al., 2016).      


The concept of Anthropocene means that human has become the dominant driver of global earth system change (Crutzen, 2002). In other words, the Anthropocene indicates that the earth-ecological crisis facing today was caused because of the developed power of socio-economy, not because of the earth system (Steffen, et al., 2011).

The Anthropocene challenges us all to radically rethink what nature, humans as well as the political and historical relationship between them might be at the end of the world, peppering its message of environmental doom with the promise of scientific renewal (and global survival) through trans-disciplinary collaboration. This bipolar message of a new science and a new politics amidst ruins is exhilarating for some, and seems to come at an opportune moment.(Harway, et al., 2015)

Different Commencement Dates

The Anthropocene’s starting date is the matter of debate (Hamilton et al., 2015). It is difficult to put a precise date on a transition that occurred at different times and rates in different places, but it is clear that in 1750, the Industrial Revolution had barely begun but by 1850 it had almost completely transformed England and had spread to many other countries in Europe and across the Atlantic to North America. We thus suggest that the year AD 1800 could reasonably be chosen as the beginning of the Anthropocene (Steffen et al., 2011).

At present, there is no formal agreement on when the Anthropocene began with proposed date ranging from before the end of the last glaciation to the 1960s (Lewis et al., 2015). Crutzen and Stoermer originally proposed that the start of the Anthropocene should be coincident with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and James Watt’s 1784 refinement of the steam engine. Others followed, including stratigraphers, suggesting that 1800 should be the beginning of the Anthropocene, (Lewis et al., 2015).

The Biologist Eugene F. Stoermer wrote that ‘I began using the term “Anthropocene” in the 1980s, but never formalized it until Paul contacted me' (Steffen et al., 2011). Later on, the atmospheric chemist and Nobel Price winner, Paul Crutzen first mooted it in 2000 (Hamilton et al., 2015).  In 2002, Paul Crutzen resurrected the concept of the Anthropocene to denote the current interval of time on Earth in which many key processes are dominated by human influence (Zalasiewiczi et al., 2011). Dating the start of the Anthropocene to around AD 1800, as originally proposed, has generated some ongoing controversy, but there is general consensus around the view (Oldfield, 2013).

However, Lewis and Maslin (2015) concluded that most proposed Anthropocene start dates, including the earliest detectable human impacts, earliest widespread impacts, and historic events such as the Industrial Revolution, can probably be rejected. Because they are not derived from a globally synchronous marker and viewed that only those environmental changes associated with well-mixed atmospheric gases provide clearly global synchronous geological markers on an annual or decade scale, as is required to define a GSSP for the Anthropocene. Thus, the CH4 inflection is unlikely to be a strong candidate for the beginning of the Anthropocene. We find that only two other events—the Orbis spike dip in CO2 with a minimum at 1610, and the bomb spike 1964 peak in 14C—appear to fulfill the criteria for a GSSP to define the inception of the Anthropocene.The Orbis hypothesis directs us to the relation between the Anthropocene, colonialism and mercantile capitalism, while the ‘Great Acceleration’ hypothesis points to the connections between the Anthropocene, post-war consumer capitalism, and the geopolitics of the Cold War,(Barry et al, 2016).

The Capitalocene

The Capitalocene is an alternative argument to the Anthropocene; the Capitalocene explores the idea that our current historical era is dominated by capitalism and therefore, we are living in the Capitalocene era (Moore 2016). Cheap Nature is central to capitalism; it is the idea that nature is separate from human society. Nature is exploited at little or no cost, and this is done through; cheap labour, cheap energy, cheap food and cheap raw materials. (Moore, 2017b). Jason Moore, a leading scholar of the Capitalocene, suggests that capitalism began with the Dutch and English agricultural revolutions and Columbus’ invasion of the Americas in the 1400s (Moore, 2017a). For example, the colonisation of the Americas saw a divide between nature and humans amid mass exploitation, such as cheap labour from the use of slaves who worked to produce cheap food such as sugar (Moore, 2016).

Since this time, capitalism has become the global economic system, driven by exploitation, which has caused a considerable depletion of natural resources. Humans are consuming more resources than the Earth can regenerate, and the overconsumption of resources has contributed to the effects of global warming such as pollution and sea level rise (Richardson, 2019). The exhaustion of cheap nature may mean that we cannot sustain the capitalist system, as capitalism relies on growth to survive, therefore, this poses a challenge to capitalism and could see the end of the Capitalocene (Moore, 2016).


‘Planationocene’ was generated by participants at a conversation for Ethnos at the University of Aarhus in October 2014. It identified the devastating transformation of diverse kinds of human-tended farms, pastures, and forests into extractive and enclosed plantations, relying on slave labor and other forms of exploited, alienated, and usually spatially transported labor. Also, Scholars have long understood that the slave plantation system was the model and motor for the carbon-greedy machine-base factory system that is often cited as an infection point for the Anthropocene.

To overcome the system such as plantation, Haraway (2015) focused on the capability of the land as the place where countless living things co-exist and repeat decomposition and reproduction. It entangles myriad temporalities and spatialities and myriad intra-active entities-in-assemblages-including the more-than-human, other-than-human, inhuman, and human-as-humans. Therefore, in order to emphasize the power of the land, she suggested the ‘Chthulucene’ and it means that it is a representative era of ‘Chthulu’[1] rather than things such as mankind, capital, and large farms (Haraway, 2005).

Harway(2015) insists that the Anthropocene is more a boundary event than an epoch. The Anthropocene marks severe discontinuities; what comes after will not be like what came after. She said what we need to do is to make the Anthropocene as short and thin as possible and to cultivate with each other in every way imaginable epochs to come that can replenish refuge.

[1] ‘Chthulu’ is created based on the Greek world ‘chthon’, which means land.

Criticism of the Anthropocene

One of criticism for the Anthropocene narrative seems to be population growth: if it can be shown that fossil fuel combustion is largely fanned by the multiplication of human numbers, the species can indeed be held causally responsible. Granted, there is a correlation between human population and CO2 emissions, but the latter(CO2) increased by a factor of 654.8 between 1820 and 2010 (Boden et al., 2013), while the former(Human population) ‘only’ did so by a factor of 6.6 (Maddison, 2006: 241; United Nations, 2011), indicating that another, far more powerful engine must have driven the fires. For recent decades, the correlation has been revealed as outright negative.

David Satterthwaite juxtaposed rates of population growth to rates of emissions growth in the quarter-century between 1980 and 2005, and found that numbers tended to rise fastest where emissions grew slowest, and vice versa (Satterthwaite, 2009). The rise of population and the rise of emissions were disconnected from each other, the one mostly happening in places where the other did not – and if a correlation is negative, causation is out of the question. A significant chunk of humanity is not party to the fossil economy at all: hundreds of millions rely on charcoal, firewood or organic waste such as dung for all domestic purposes. Satterthwaite concluded that one-sixth of the human population ‘best not be included in allocations of responsibility for GHG emissions’(Satterthwaite, 2009: 547–550).

Challenges to the Anthropocene - Anthropogenic Global Warming

A significant challenge to the Anthropocene era is Anthropogenic Global Warming, which is the increase in the average global air temperature due to human activity. Global warming causes severe effects such as sea level rise, extreme weather events, ocean acidification and shrinking ice sheets (NASA, 2020). States engaged in industrial actives such as burning coal have been the ones to contribute the most to global warming; however, it is often the states that contribute the least that experience the worst effects. For example, industrialised states such as Europe and America have been the major contributors to global warming. In contrast non-industrialised areas such as the Pacific Islands, are suffering severely from sea level rise, destroying livelihoods and communities (McCalman, 2018). One major challenge of addressing global warming is that it is a worldwide issue, and not everyone agrees with the scale of which to implement adaptation and mitigation mechanisms. These mechanisms often include moving away from fossil fuels, towards renewable energy which can be seen as a potential threat to an economy and capital growth.(McCalman, 2018). In 2016 the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change developed the Paris Agreement to bring states together to tackle climate change and strength the global response by way of mitigation, adaptation and finance. While 189 parties have ratified the Paris Agreement, the lack of international sanctions and accountability of states to implement climate change policy is a significant obstacle of the agreement and poses a challenge to mitigation and adaptation efforts (UNFCCC, 2020). Anthropogenic Global Warming and how to tackle it on a global scale is, therefore, a significant challenge to the Anthropocene Era.


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