A Cabinet of Curiosities for the Anthropocene

by

Discard Studies

The Anthropocene is a term of art for the geologic epoch that began when human activities had a global, lasting impact on the Earth’s ecosystems. While it’s exact origin date is under debate, we know that hundreds and thousands of years into the future the geological strata will be full of plastic, signs of nuclear fall out, increased quantities of carbon dioxide and other permanent signs of planetary alteration. “The Great Acceleration” refers to the past century where many of these planet-altering practices are increasing in frequency, magnitude and intensity.

Image based on data from Steffen, W., Crutzen, P. J., & McNeill, J. R. (2007). The Anthropocene: are humans now overwhelming the great forces of nature. Ambio: A Journal of the Human Environment, 36(8), 614-621. Image based on data from Steffen, W., Crutzen, P. J., & McNeill, J. R. (2007). “The Anthropocene: are humans now overwhelming the great forces of nature.” Ambio: A Journal of the Human Environment, 36(8), 614-621.

The externalities of economic and industrial systems–waste and discards–play a major role in both creating the Anthropocene and in marking its place in…

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