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Living with the Anthropocene: Love, Loss and Hope in the Face of Environmental Crisis

What is Anthropocene apart from a word that has sparked controversy and conversation, predominantly in the scientific world, that focuses on systemic environmental change, something that Australia politically has shown little regard too over far too many years?

But it now must be considered as a serious word, as we have not just entered, but have been in the age of the Anthropocene for a very, very long time, the so called ‘age of the human’ and one that is fast becoming considered in scientific terms, as the most knowingly destructive ‘age’ which, in times yet to come, will be registered in the many layers that make up the surface of the earth, recorded there for all times, or until the final days of this planet called Earth.

To this end, many writers have come together to share their stories, their feelings of angst, hope, despair, frustration and hope in a collection of both short stories and essays, which presents a somewhat complex conversation about life in Australia in the age of the Anthropocene.

Not a book to attempt to read from cover to cover, it is a book that needs to be carefully considered, piece by piece, story by story, some almost appearing to be casually constructed, others far more complex, with each carefully selected to capture the immensity of feeling here, now, in Australia.

As it is book of considerable density in both size and information, it was some time in the making, being complete just prior to the cataclysmic bushfires of the summer of 2019/20 when 17 million hectares of country was ravaged, lives lost, homes and the health of many destroyed.

Sadly this gave and gives greater gravitas to the words written by so many, all eventually coming back to the same point, that of the wilful neglect and destruction  of the very basis of our survival; Environmental destruction, a term used to gather many elements  under one umbrella.

Dubbo Dust from Cameron Muir captures the very elements and emotion of survival in a dust ridden environment, the soil so fine, so dry, being blown so fiercely across the open lands, cloaking everything in layers of dirt, Jane Rawson contributes with But How Are We Supposed To Enjoy Ourselves, a very personal, thoughtful piece about choosing change and what is lost, what is found.

Ruth Morgan talks about the destruction the mining industry has wrought in the desert lands of Kalgoorlie: a short, powerful piece, The Super Pit reflects ona man-made phenomenon in the never ending search of gold.

A Landscape Already Lost from James Bradley looks at the irreversible devastation of the oceans and waterways of Australia that have occurred since the Dreaming, a time when the indigenous inhabitants told their stories about the land and water surrounding them. How far from those pristine days have we travelled and how much the price future generation will have to pay.

These and many, many more stories make fascinating reading, showing and showcasing the legacy we, as humans inhabiting this ancient land, are crafting and will leave behind for the futures of tomorrow.

 Powerful and moving Living with the Anthropocene has gathered together writers, thinkers, scientists, farmers, historians, ecologists, artist and walkers to reflect on what is called environmental change and what it means to them.

Personal and Urgent, this is a literary anthology for our age, the age of humans’ are the last lines of text on the back cover, but sum up succinctly what is being recognised in story after story; how do we expound a ‘collective endeavour’ towards change and what it is like to be alive in the Anthropocene age – the age of humans! The question is posed, ‘How do we hold on to hope?’

Author edited by Cameron Muir, Kirsten Wehner, Jenny Newell
Publisher NewSouth
ISBN 9781742236889
Distributor New South Books
Released October 2020