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Cover The Politics of the Earth

12. Encountering the Anthropocene  

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.