New Directions in Environmental History, Part 3: The Anthropocene in History
The Anthropocene concept is inherently interdisciplinary. It refers to an interval of time in the history of the Earth, but one, unlike all the others, in which humankind’s actions serve to inaugurate and structure it. Thus the concept straddles human and non-human inquiry. The Anthropocene represents, among other things, a challenge to existing schemes of periodization not only within geology, but in environmental history and perhaps history in general. How should historians react to the challenge?
The discussion will feature three historians (McNeill, Philip and Thomas), a paleo-ecologist (Kaplan) and a geologist who serves as the chair of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (Syvitski). The roundtable’s chair (McNeill) is a historian but also a member of the Anthropocene Working Group, the body charged to recommend for or against the formal adoption of the Anthropocene into the geological time scale.