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The Politics of the Anthropocene$
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John S. Dryzek and Jonathan Pickering

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198809616

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198809616.001.0001

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Anthropocene: the good, the bad, and the inescapable

Anthropocene: the good, the bad, and the inescapable

(p.1) 1 Anthropocene: the good, the bad, and the inescapable
The Politics of the Anthropocene

John S. Dryzek

Jonathan Pickering

Oxford University Press

The Anthropocene is an emerging epoch in the Earth system that requires a “state shift” in the way we think. The Earth system becomes much more unstable than it was in the last 12,000 years of the Holocene. The “bad Anthropocene” is associated with scientists who have identified “planetary boundaries” that must not be transgressed: so the Anthropocene is mostly something to be fought. The “good Anthropocene” is proposed by technological optimists who welcome humanity asserting benign control over what was the natural world. It is preferable to think of the inescapable Anthropocene: as something that humanity must learn to live with, for it will continue to generate novel challenges and crises in the Earth system. Human activities have a decisive causal influence on the Earth system, but to date the responses of the social sciences to the challenge have been inadequate. It is necessary to do better.

Keywords:   Anthropocene, Earth system, Holocene, social-ecological systems, good Anthropocene, Great Acceleration, planetary boundaries

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