Designing the Anthropocene

By Keith Kloor | February 13, 2013 3:46 pm

If there is one tenet for conservation biologists and environmentalists to live by in the age of the Anthropocene, it would be this pearl of wisdom from the ecologist Daniel Botkin:

Nature in the twenty-first century will be a nature that we make; the question is the degree to which this molding will be intentional or unintentional, desirable or undesirable.

Like it or not, such molding is much of what conservation is all about today. I’m sure this makes a lot of people in the green world nervous. But as Andy Revkin has observed:

Taking full ownership of the Anthropocene won’t be easy. The necessary feeling is a queasy mix of excitement and unease.

It’s not like we have any choice, either. For as Peter Kareiva, the Nature Conservancy’s top ecologist says, “the Anthropocene is about designing the future.” He said that and much more when he recently stopped by Jon Christensen’s UCLA class on science communication and environmental journalism. There’s a recording of the discussion, which is well worth a listen.

The conversation between Kareiva, Christensen and UCLA students touched on several environmental themes (including an emerging one) that are of great interest to me. I will cover all this in a longer post appearing tomorrow.


CATEGORIZED UNDER: Anthropocene, ecology
MORE ABOUT: Anthropocene, ecology
  • dogktor

    Not very transparent of you Keith.

    A little disclosure can go a loooong way.

    Nature Conservancy

    Working with Companies

    Dow Announces Business Strategy for Conservation

    • Keith Kloor

      Wow, that’s quite an impressive shilling list, no? That is your point, right?

      • dogktor

        Keith. You are much too experienced and intelligent not to know what my point is: the objectivity of the source of information is most certainly questionable.

        • jh

          Why should the objectivity of the source information be viewed as “questionable” when the source’s interests are open to examination? :)

    • jh

      those “large corporations” with their “fiduciary duty to be untrustworthy” are at it again – working for the interests of society all for the sake of evil PROFIT! Stop them!

      • dogktor

        Working for the interest of society–> altruism is described thus in corproate case law As the law evolved, corporate altruism began to be seen as proper so long as it was likely to provide direct benefits to the corporation and its shareholders

        • jh

          Altruism? :)

          Corporations and other organizations – like green orgs – work to advance the interests of their members and/or management. NC and it’s allied corporations have apparently found a way that they can work together to advance mutual interests. From the perspective of society, as long as the work is in the general interest of society, it doesn’t matter a damn whether the motivation is altruistic or self interested.

          Of course, plenty of people and organizations claim to be acting solely for the interests of other people or society in general. Usually it’s a claim that’s fairly easy to debunk.

    • Skip Nordenholz

      Not sure what the point of this list is, its companies they have worked with, in what way? As advisers, or marketing departments there is a big difference. Nature Conservancy agrees with the science of global warming, how does that fit in with your shrill hypothesis.

  • Joshua Brooks

    The idea that small-scale farming is the best solution
    for food security is very dangerous – it really is the total opposite.
    If everyone just
    grows their own food, then any local disruption will be catastrophic for
    those involved.

    focus on improving small-scale farming, and expanding urban farming is
    not mutually exclusive with global agricultural markets. Anyone who
    argues, either way, in ways that suggest that kind of mutual exclusivity
    (be it an “environmentalist” or someone from Breakthrough” is making a
    false argument.

    Keith – don’t you ever get tired of this focus on the back-and-forth of facile arguments?


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About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.


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