The Anthropocene is an idea most of us have heard of, but the concept is largely varied and involves so much its understanding can often get lost.
The literal meaning of the Anthropocene is: the current epoch we are living in after the Holocene within the Quaternary Period is within the Cenozoic Era. The basic idea of the Anthropocene is the physical, social, political and ecological systems of the earth have been so heavily impacted by people, we now have an epoch named after us.
This concept is one I first heard of and only vaguely learned about in my GCSEs and A-level studies but is now the sole focus of a third-year module in Environmental Science at UEA. After only one week of this class, two things became clear to me: for one, I was more passionate about this subject than I realised, and everyone in my class had different opinions and ideas about the Anthropocene.
It was not until this module and reading John Green’s book, ‘The Anthropocene Reviewed,’ I found how easily the Anthropocene could be portrayed as negative. It could include topics as significant as people causing living things to become extinct and how we are hugely contributing to climate change. On the other hand, it could also include things as insignificant as how teddy bears were invented and why I am absolutely petrified of snakes.
However, as I looked deeper into the idea of the Anthropocene, I found it imperative to find some positives in the deep sea of negatives. Otherwise, I would get lost in the “bad vibes” and it is likely my depression would worsen. For example, yes, we are causing the extinction of many organisms, but we are also conserving, bringing back and finding new species of living things as conservation zoos acquire critically endangered species and encourage them to breed to save themselves.
As selfish and negative as the Anthropocene seems, the fact of this new epoch made just for us humans, could be incredible for the Earth as we realise we need to change our habits and ways of thinking as a species to ensure the future and sustainability of our home. I know this may come across as naïve, but I like to think that big positive changes are coming in this Anthropocene.