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Truth is Powerful

The Politics of the Anthropocene in a World After Neoliberalism


Can today’s crises inspire action at the scales required to think about planetary sustainability?

Historian Adam Tooze has argued that COVID-19 is the first economic crisis of the Anthropocene , a term encapsulating the idea that human impact on the environment and climate is so extreme that it has moved us out of the Holocene into a new geological epoch.

While this argument remains the subject of deep disagreement among experts, those advocating for the Anthropocene emphasize that humans have so drastically altered the environment that we have become agents of transformations we cannot reliably control. Indeed, we are daily reminded of these effects by extreme weather events, species extinctions, and new global health emergencies.

Why has it proven so difficult politically to act in the face of ample evidence of an increasingly uninhabitable Earth?

The most pressing and most obvious of these forces is the novel coronavirus, which has exposed the frailties of political systems in so-called advanced democracies in collectively terrifying but individually unsurprising ways. As with other pandemics, the least powerful and most insecure members of society are those who suffer the most.

If one of the challenges posed by the Anthropocene is to rethink the evaluative and ecological […]

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