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Defiant Earth: The fate of humans in the Anthropocene

In this wonderful, glorious debate, almost with himself, Clive Hamilton puts forward the emotive issue of Climate Change, earth change and the destabilisation of the natural order of things, all orchestrated by we, the human race, in a never ending race to the finish, whatever and wherever that may be.

He points out the sadly for the earth and for its population, the damage that is being done is considered irreversible; but this is also an issue that is hotly debated in academic circles which have split into two camps, those who believe and those who mock and scorn in regard to climate change.

But what has caused such angst and concern; politically climate change and all that goes with it has become a point scoring exercise; scientifically it has become a very divisive issue. At the bottom of it all is the salient point that because human beings have become so powerful, throughout the medium of Technology, their interference with the natural evolution of the earth, which has been taking place for the past 4.5 billion years, has over the past 70 years severely disrupted the natural pace of progression. The speed of change has increased to what can or could be considered a disastrously rapid pace.

Because of the huge amounts of carbon dioxide being released into the earth’s atmosphere, predominantly since 1945,  The International Commission on Stratigraphy is seriously considering officially adding another epoch, that of Anthropocene, to the scale, as it is considered, thanks to human intervention, the earth has shifted significantly from the previous epoch, that of Holocene.

While this in itself to the man about town, is not a disturbing aspect of their life, the effects are being felt by all with significant shifts in localised weather patterns, which are disturbing. Crops are failing, people are starving, fires and floods are causing wholesale devastation world-wide. The polar icecaps are melting causing changes to sea levels and also to water quality, which in turn affects all sea life and major river systems are slowing down.

Mother Earth or Gaia’, who as Greek Goddess are wont to do, is getting very angry at the abuse of her creation. In Hamilton words, she ‘sends extreme events before which our powers appear puny’.  He also likens this to a massive tug-of-war between ‘humankind and Earth’, because from his perspective, as technology increases it has placed enormous power in the hands of humans, which has given them a dominance not seen previously, allowing them to alter and control much of nature, thereby altering the natural progression of the earth. The Earth is striking back and becoming far more unpredictable than ever before.

What is to be done or can anything be done to change what appears to be the relentless disregard to the basis of our civilisation is a complete unknown. Environmental campaigners and campaigns have, to a degree, raised awareness of what is happening but is this still falling on deaf ears or is there a chance, an opportunity, to be able to halt or correct such devastation?

Sadly the damage cannot be undone but perhaps, it can be halted, ultimately that is up to the Human race to decided or will the coldly clinical words uttered by Nietzsche in 1873 still hold true when he said ‘In some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering in innumerable solar systems, there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge………… After nature had drawn a few breaths the star grew cold, the clever animals had to die’

In the final chapter Hamilton ponders the issue that there can be no real end to the book, to the debate, the destruction, as it rages on endlessly, the only hope is that our descendants will be wiser and, should a new civilisation be built on the destruction of the old, they will have learned the lessons history holds, that we in the forthcoming Anthropocene age, still will not learn!

Though provoking and shedding a different perspective on what can and most probably will happen, Clive Hamilton possess more questions that he solves, raises more issues than simply that of Climate Change and offers no solutions other than taking time to pause and reflect, in order to be able to salvage what, in his opinion is a doomed society!

AuthorClive Hamilton
PublisherAllen and Unwin
DistributorAllen and Unwin
Running TimeMay 2017