Tragedy of the Anthropocene
It may be serendipity or maybe editorial nous, but those looking for evidence to support the theory of the Anthropocene (14 July) only needed to flip a few pages to read of a permanent drought in Spain, and a tsunami of plastic bottles. As Timothy Morton argues in his inimitable style, the ecological crisis is as real as the rising of the sun. The tragedy is that it has clearly still not entered the political imagination.
Thus elsewhere, in Comment & Debate, Hans Kundnani attempts to persuade us that the real problem facing Europe is its failure to increase its defence spending, and we read of Donald Trump’s peevish and pathetic posturing at the G20 when faced with the climate agreement.
Whatever you may think of some of Morton’s wackier ideas, his basic premise is inarguable: so long as the many symptoms of human impact are simplified into manageable problems, we are losing time. The paradox is that, contrary to the leftist critique of Morton’s thinking, the ones who will suffer are the poor, the weak and the coming generations. Faced with this inevitability, politicians seem bankrupt, bogged down in 19thcentury ideas of progress. Neil Blackshaw Barbizon, France
• The decline of the US and the rise of the Anthropocene are arguably the two great interconnected challenges of this century and beyond. One heralds the uncertainty of increasing economic and political change. The other is the certainty of climate change. Donald Trump and Brexit are second-order matters.
One is a recurring human phenomenon as empires, civilisations and more recently capitalist worldsystems rise, triumph and fall over centuries. The other is a new concept describing a new dynamic encompassing catastrophic planetary change over millennia.
Both are connected, joined at the hip you might say, by the imperative of endless growth that is central to capitalism. It is economic growth that drives the rise of China and the others; it is economic growth that drives the Anthropocene.
The question, as crystallised by Kate Raworth of Doughnut Economics fame, is whether we can create a future capitalism that replaces endless growth with thriving in balance with both nature and human needs. If not, then what? Stewart Sweeney Adelaide, South Australia
• Your piece on philosopher Timothy Morton says how convinced he is, like most of us, “that irreversible global warming is under way”, and that our current Anthropocene age is proof of how “enmeshed we are with other beings”. Eclectic and whimsical, Morton has already published, at 49, 12 books with two on the way, along with 14 essays. He has also boasted, as mentioned in your six-page feature, that he has “racked up 350,000 air miles for the year”. Is this merely perseverance, or, in terms of his carbon footprint, evidence, of overkill? Richard Orlando Westmount, Quebec, Canada