12 February 2009


I am sometimes asked what 'Anthropocene extinction', a tag used for The Book of Barely Imagined Beings, means. A good place to start is an account from the Stratigraphy Commission of the Geological Society of London, relayed in a stylish piece [1] by Mike Davis:
This new age [they explain] is defined both by the heating trend...and by the radical instability expected of future environments...They warn that "the combination of extinctions, global species migrations and the widespread replacement of natural vegetation with agricultural monocultures is producing a distinctive contemporary biostratigraphic signal. These effects are permanent, as future evolution will take place from surviving (and frequently anthropogenically relocated) stocks." Evolution itself, in other words, has been forced into a new trajectory.

[1] Who Will Build the Ark? The Utopian Imperative in an Age of Catastrophe, linked at Global Dashboard on 12 Feb. Another view (but one with which I do not necessarily wholly agree either) comes from Thomas Homer-Dixon in Our Panarchic Future.

See also Toast (2).

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