The Anthropocene and Climate Crisis

  • Author / Creator
    Ren, Joseph
  • The Anthropocene, the idea that modern humans have the capability to change the environment on geological scales, has grown to prominence as a fashionable method of framing human-driven climate change. Popular across academic disciplines, the Anthropocene has also inspired debates within the humanities on the history, present, and future of the unified species-agent that the Anthropocene posits. I study the Anthropocene in its foundational moments within institutional geology in order to trace its epistemic presuppositions, conditions of possibility, limits, and political horizons. I find that, at its emergence, the Anthropoene categorically empties the elements of the social and the contingent from its figuring of human history. Instead, it recounts the dominance of colonial capitalism as a historical necessity. I investigate furthermore the connection between the Anthropocene and contemporary activism, exemplified in sources like climate marches, Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change and inequality, and the Leap Manifesto against climate change. I find that much late climate action centres around the inextricability of the question of climate justice from other forms of justice. I read such an orientation as a corrective to the limited speculative imagination of the Anthropocene. Lastly, I extend the insight of the Anthropocene, that every human is equally responsible for our current conjuncture, to the radically democratic conclusion that thus every human should have a say in the organization, decisions, and futures of the species. I end with a consideration of some of the work to be done to fulfill the promise of such an opening.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2016
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.