Are we avoiding the real problems of the Anthropocene?

Because the global ecological crisis we face is perceived within the framework of the physical sciences — physics, chemistry, biology, etc — we tend to seek solutions in that same domain. Thus our focus is on renewable energy, emissions control, eco-system restoration and, at the extreme, geo-engineering. But this is a fundamental misunderstanding. Our problem is not that things are going seriously wrong within the Earth System, which they are, but that our human culture has become antithetical to the processes that support life on this planet.

The shift from dependence on fossil fuels is an absolutely essential condition for the continuing viability of our species and many others as well. But it is not a sufficient condition. To use a computer analogy, replacing fossil fuel burning with renewables is a workaround to avoid an imminent system crash. The underlying problem is with the operating system — our core cultural values.

This graphic attempts to summarise the relationship between the Earth System, human cultural dysfunction, and four domains in which we need to focus our efforts for the necessary cultural transformation.

Preparing for the AT


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