Sustainability and Crisis in the Anthropocene

to appear in BIG Policy Briefs

Edwin Hodge, Simon Dalby

Published: November 2019

Keywords: BIG, Policy Brief, Sustainability, Anthropocene


"Sustainability and Crisis in the Anthropocene"

BIG Policy Brief, Vol. 1 No. 10, November 2019

When thinking about human politics or human societies, the use of geological timescales seems strange - even inappropriate. Nearly the entirety of the sweep of human history can fit comfortably into the past two-hundred thousand years and barely registers the scale of era or epoch. Yet the turn of the century - or millennium - also marked the passage of human civilizations from one geologic period to the next, from the Holocene to the Anthropocene, an era named less for the presence of humans, as it is for the impact our presence has made on the world. For the past several centuries, human sivilizations have been reshaping the face of the world and now, we must face the consequences.

Comntemporary geopolitics is more than the reconfiguring of political space; it is the reconfiguring of the earth itself. As modern states grow and as they seek to extend their reach through ever widening and deepening networks of extraction, processing, manufacturing, and consumption, they also engage in large-scale 'geoscaping' where millions of tons of earth, water, mineral and plant material are shifted, blasted, burned and reconfigured to service a global economy. The marks of human economic, social, and technological development are so great they can easilt be seen from space. 

BIG monthly briefings are short, and written in an accessible way in order to enable non-experts and border scholars alike to gain insight into the work that the Borders in Globalization project has done over the past few years. Each of the monthly briefings will be posted on their website as they are released to partners, stakeholders, and other interested groups.