Which do you think is the more accurate label for the present era...the Anthropocene, or the Capitalocene?

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Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture
Which do you think is the more accurate label for the present era...the Anthropocene, or the Capitalocene?

The term Anthropocene is used to describe this as an era in which human activity in general is the driving force behind climate change.  It is best characterized, IMHO, by the Al Gore focus on saving the climate by getting ordinary humans to make adjustments in their consumption habits-most famously, his push for people to switcht the type of lightbulbs being used.  It calls for no major changes in the structure of the economy or of society, tends to be a "top-down" perspective, and can probably be traced back to Puritan notions about the sinful nature of man.  It tends to be the label used by "liberal" or "moderate" political figures and those in the mainstream environmental leadership, since it exempts their large donors from any real responsibility for the situation and asks nothing of anyone but the proles.

The term Capitalocene, on the other hand, is used to push for the idea that the driving force of climate change is corporate arrogance, recklessness and greed.  It situates blame for the crisis in the capitalist system(and, to a lesser degree, to the industrialist, resource-extraction based economies most countries have embraced, regardless of their stated economic structure) since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.

Which of these terms are you more likely to use, and which of these do you feel is a more useful label for the current crisis?  Do you believe that it's possible to avoid climate catastrophe strictly or mainly through the human race in general making personal efforts to reduce our individual carbon "footprints", or are you among those who think only radical structural change can save us from disaster?

NDPP

I prefer 'Capitalobscene'.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Which of these terms are you more likely to use, and which of these do you feel is a more useful label for the current crisis?

I don't see myself using either all that often in conversation.  But if I did, I'd probably go with the one more people are likely to understand.  Calling it the "capitalocene" is just a gimmick, really, unless non-capitalist countries are powering their cars and generating their electricity with solar and tidal or something.

Quote:
Do you believe that it's possible to avoid climate catastrophe strictly or mainly through the human race in general making personal efforts to reduce our individual carbon "footprints", or are you among those who think only radical structural change can save us from disaster?

Why either/or?

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

It is not either or. The radical structural change will also result in reducing individual carbon footprints. One emphasis lets us all just wait for everyone else to become aware. As someone who has been working on all those energy saving things for thirty years personally I wonder how many decades it will take to achieve a critical mass of people committed to the scale of reductions that would have any effect.

If one believes it is not a near term crisis but something we can punt down the road for a few more decades then maybe the first option is for you.

Badriya

Edited to delete Ken's quote.

There is a working group of scientists trying to get a new geological age recognized, the Anthropocene.

The ‘Anthropocene’ is a term widely used since its coining by Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer in 2000 to denote the present time interval, in which many geologically significant conditions and processes are profoundly altered by human activities. These include changes in: erosion and sediment transport associated with a variety of anthropogenic processes, including colonisation, agriculture, urbanisation and global warming. the chemical composition of the atmosphere, oceans and soils, with significant anthropogenic perturbations of the cycles of elements such as carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and various metals. environmental conditions generated by these perturbations; these include global warming, ocean acidification and spreading oceanic ‘dead zones’. the biosphere both on land and in the sea, as a result of habitat loss, predation, species invasions and the physical and chemical changes noted above.

The ‘Anthropocene’ is currently being considered by the Working Group as a potential geological epoch, i.e. at the same hierarchical level as the Pleistocene and Holocene epochs, with the implication that it is within the Quaternary Period, but that the Holocene has terminated. It might, alternatively, also be considered at a lower (Age) hierarchical level; that would imply it is a subdivision of the ongoing Holocene Epoch.

http://quaternary.stratigraphy.org/working-groups/anthropocene/

There is an amazing multi-media (photos, videos and interactive installations) at the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Anthropocene is a major contemporary art exhibition featuring new works from the collective of Edward Burtynsky, Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier. … After Mr. Burtynsky and the filmmakers finished Watermark in 2013, it was Ms. Baichwal who suggested their next job was to “evangelize” the term Anthropocene.

https://www.gallery.ca/whats-on/exhibitions-and-galleries/anthropocene

It should not only be an individual effort.

The Ottawa New Socialists are criticizing an exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada, called Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, for blaming climate change on individuals rather than on corporations.
https://charlatan.ca/2018/10/editorial-political-art-can-be-influential/