I completely disagree with Kathleen Dean Moore’s naming options for our new, human-dominated epoch (“Anthropocene Is the Wrong Word,” Spring 2013). Why not give a name that expresses hope that we can do things in the right way? Obviously the human race has a lot to learn, but her viewpoint seems to be infused with pessimism that verges on misanthropy. For me the point of the “Anthropocene” is to recognize that we do have agency as a global force and, with that recognition, accept that it’s our responsibility to save this planet.
David Grinspoon, Washington, DC
While some like to suggest that we are living in a new epoch, the Anthropocene (“Welcome to the Anthropocene,” Spring 2013), it seems to me that actually we are living at the threshold of a “post-Anthropocene” world – the seeds of which were sown with the first prehistoric tools and continue today with the effects of pollution, disease, and waste that coincide with the “end of nature.” As a scholar of communications and its relation to history and geography, I would offer that the anthropocentrism that places humans at the center of the world begins with an understanding of the ways that communication is already an artifice – from the most simple spoken words learned as infants to the myriad forms of reading and writing tied to our sophisticated electronic technologies. If the objective of naming the Anthropocene is to center and secure human dominion over “nature,” then perhaps an objective of the post-Anthropocene is to de-center our place with respect to Nature. That work begins with a recognition of the ways in which our artifacts exert a force beyond our understanding and control.
Letters to the Editor
Earth Island Journal
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Randy Chulick, Silver City, NM
In his book Nature Wars (reviewed by Jason Mark in your Spring 2013 issue), Jim Sterba fails to recognize that, often, nonlethal solutions to wild animal encroachments are both less expensive and more permanent than trapping. He never acknowledges that beaver flooding can be effectively controlled with flow devices, allowing the beavers to remain. Or that new colonies can be naturally discouraged using the beavers’ own territorial behaviors. He never admits that beaver-created wetlands promote fish, birds, and wildlife while raising the water table. I am saddened to see Earth Island Journal promote his book.
Heidi Perryman, Martinez, CA
I agree with Tom Athanasiou on the need for “global emergency mobilization” to address global climate change (“In Review: Catastrophism,” Spring 2013). But I disagree that we should put “global economic justice at the center of the green political agenda.”
Some segments of the American left have long criticized environmentalists as middle-class whites uninterested in poverty, racism, and other social justice issues. Yet the left often supports central planning, technology, and economic growth – thus mirroring the logic of capitalism.
On one side are those who profess social justice but undermine it. On the other side is the environmental movement, arguably the most important in history, trying to head off the destruction of the natural world.
The very underpinnings of human society are being methodically dismantled before our eyes. Yet much of the American left still holds back from joining the single movement that has, for 40 years, defended those who have been dislocated and poisoned by this system. It continues to deny, per Athanasiou’s meritless claim, that anything but economic justice is worth fighting for. This denial represents the ultimate concession to catastrophism that Athanasiou opposes.
Lorna Salzman Brooklyn, NY
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