Anthropocene Debates

Geographer Erle Ellis, in a New York Times article, argues against the panic about environmental degradation and species loss. He accepts the designation of Anthropocene, which seems to have become conventional now, and thinks that “The idea that humans must live within the natural environmental limits of our planet denies the realities of our entire history, and most likely the future. Humans are niche creators. We transform ecosystems to sustain ourselves. This is what we do and have always done. Our planet’s human carrying capacity emerges from the capabilities of our social systems and our technologies more than from any environmental limits.”

What I like about this is that he ends with politics, he’s not just claiming that technology drives change. The status of the total human system is very relevant to art, particularly the question of whether we will have a static, zero growth economy, or whether technology will enable continual growth. Right now the zero growth model seems to be attractive to progressives and the left. A growing economy enables a growing art world, and there hasn’t been much critical assessment of that. Zero growth will entail a static art world—and likewise there hasn’t been much thought about whether that will be a good thing. But there will be on this blog soon.

greatacceleration

“The Great Acceleration,” a chart and map illustrating increasing human effects on the planet

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