Anthropocene Discourse: Geopolitics After Environment

Reference work entry


Much more than has been the case with environmental politics for the last half century, the Anthropocene formulation focuses on the planetary scale transformations currently underway. Only most obvious of these are phenomena under the label of climate change and the reduction of biodiversity in the sixth planetary extinction event. While environmental discourse has largely been about protecting a supposedly fairly stable external context from the depredations of “development,” the Anthropocene suggests much more clearly that the rich and powerful parts of humanity are reshaping the planetary system in processes that are about production much more than environmental protection. Holocene biomes have been so thoroughly changed that terrestrial biota and the human systems they support are being reconfigured in novel anthrome geographies in an increasingly artificial biosphere. This reassembling of living and artificial components is making the future Anthropocene one shaped by political decisions about investment, infrastructure and new forms of urban life and rural resource extraction. Whether this is a relatively benign future for most of humanity, or a violent one involving forcible control by the rich and powerful over the remains of a rapidly degrading biosphere and its peoples, is now the overarching question of geological politics.


Planetary system Environmental discourse Climate change Geology 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and School of International Policy and Governance and the Balsillie School of International AffairsWilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada

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