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That led some observers to conclude that the issue had been prejudged, and many words have been wasted criticizing or praising Crutzen and his co-thinkers for supposedly believing (as some green theorists do) that is the source of all environmental problems.Actually Crutzen was opening a discussion, not declaring a conclusion: he clearly stated that “alternative proposals can be made.”8And in fact, a dozen or more proposals for dating the Anthropocene have been made to the AWG.As the Brazilian ecosocialist and atmospheric scientist Alexandre Costa writes, “The fight to avoid a catastrophic outcome to this crisis engendered by capitalism is the fight to safeguard the material conditions for survival with dignity of humankind….Socialism is not possible on a scorched Earth.”2In 1995, Paul Crutzen, then vice-chair of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP), received a Nobel Prize for showing that widely used chemicals were destroying the ozone layer in earth’s upper atmosphere, with potentially catastrophic effects for all life on Earth.They hope to make recommendations during the 35th International Geological Congress in South Africa in August 2016, but formalization of the Anthropocene is not a foregone conclusion.The recommendation might be that the term should remain informal, or that a decision should be delayed.
These phrases are not used lightly: the earth has entered a new epoch, one that is likely to continue changing in unpredictable and dangerous ways.
Human activities have become so pervasive and profound that they rival the great forces of Nature and are pushing the Earth into planetary terra incognita.
The Earth is rapidly moving into a less biologically diverse, less forested, much warmer, and probably wetter and stormier state.1Socialists cannot ignore a change of this magnitude, or treat it as just one aspect of our program.
Behind what might appear to be just a trendy buzzword are important scientific discussions that have radical implications for the future of life on Earth.
Three leading authorities on the science of the Anthropocene express the issues clearly: The term Anthropocene…suggests that the Earth has now left its natural geological epoch, the present interglacial state called the Holocene.Technical studies can determine when an asteroid hit our planet or when an ice age ended, but a discussion of when human society pushed the Earth system into a no-analogue state must address social, economic, and political issues. Examining social, economic, and political developments can help identify social changes that might have changed the Earth system, and determining when radical physical changes in the Earth system happened provides a basis for determining which human activities were responsible, and thus what measures humans might take to prevent the change from reaching catastrophic proportions.