Anthropocene and Harari

From last weekend’s New York Times Magazine, Is the ‘Anthropocene’ Epoch a Condemnation of Human Interference — or a Call for More?, by Wesley Yang.

Noticed firstly as continued evidence of the currency of the term ‘anthropocene’ to refer to the influence of humanity on the planet as defining a new geological era. The essay speaks to the human tendency to dismiss evidence of any trends that don’t affect day to day life, or at worst the lives of the next generation or so.

Our inability to connect the day’s ephemera with the geological time scale has summoned a striking neologism: the Anthropocene — the “Age of Man.” Its meteoric rise is a case study in the stubbornness of the problem that the word was designed to master. Coined by the atmospheric scientist Paul Crutzen around the year 2000, the word expressed his intuition that humanity had become tantamount to the great forces of nature and that our activities now shaped the state of the systems that regulate the conditions of life. Human-induced impact on the world had become so great, he believed, that we had pushed the planet into a whole new stage of the geological time scale, leaving behind the Holocene epoch, which began 10,000 to 12,000 years ago.

With reference to a Diane Ackerman book I haven’t yet read, and the new Yuri Noah Harari book, Homo Deus, which I just got delivered from Amazon; a sequel to his bestselling Sapiens, which I’ve read and still need to post comments about.

The essayist here as read the new Harari and describes it thusly:

Harari’s book is the closest thing we have to a single-volume account of the techno-futurist vision favored by our Silicon Valley elites — his work has been cited by Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg — and it is as uneasily poised at the conjuncture of standard history and science fiction, of sober analysis and mad prophecy, of nightmare and utopia, as we ourselves have come to be.

I will read it in due time and comment.

I note the new book has a blurb about Sapiens from President Barack Obama, a reader. Can you imagine… never mind.

Also, Time Magazine published a last-page interview with Harari a week or two ago: How Humankind Could Become Totally Useless.

You write that humanity, after eradicating plague, war and famine, will use technology to seek bliss, immortality and divinity. What goal would you add to that list?

I would add truth, and in particular understanding ourselves, our minds. …

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