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The Politics of the Earth

The Politics of the Earth (4th edn)

John S. Dryzek
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date: 22 May 2024

p. 25112. Encountering the Anthropocenelocked

p. 25112. Encountering the Anthropocenelocked

  • John S. DryzekJohn S. DryzekProfessor of Political Science at the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra's Institute for Governance and Global Analysis


This chapter examines environmental discourses in light of recognition of humanity’s entry into the Anthropocene, an emerging geological epoch that dramatizes what is at stake in the politics of the Earth. The Anthropocene is the successor to the unusually benign and stable Holocene of the previous 12,000 years, during which human civilization evolved. The human institutions, practices, ideas, and discourses that still dominate the politics of the Earth all took shape under perceived Holocene conditions. The most important quality demanded of the configuration of environmental discourses is now a capacity to generate critical reflection on the trajectory of human societies in the context of an unstable Earth system. This will require meaningful deliberative and democratic engagement across discourses.

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