Philip Hoare

What Have We Done?

Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey to the Heart of the Planet We Made

By

Chatto & Windus 436pp £20 order from our bookshop

The Anthropocene is perceived as a new geological era, succeeding the Holocene, a discrete age in which human beings have affected the world. Some scientists suggest it dates from the beginning of agriculture and human management of the land; some from the inception of the Industrial Revolution, which began to pump exponentially greater quantities of carbon into the atmosphere. And some source it to the middle of the last century: the dawn of a new nuclear age and the start of the ‘Great Acceleration’, which has witnessed an exponential increase in the exploitation of resources and extinction of species. Indeed, in her recent book, The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert notes that the legacy of our own species’s brief reign on the planet will be a stratum the thickness of a cigarette paper.


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