Sustainability Book Review #12: The Anthropocene Reviewed


Sustainability Book Review #12: The Anthropocene Reviewed

John Green is famous for having written a number of bestselling YA novels – but it’s in his first nonfiction offering that the reader gets to know him better than we ever could’ve in The Fault in our Stars or its ilk. The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on a Human-Centred Planet is exactly what it says on the tin. Green writes of his favourite, least favourite, and the completely arbitrary aspects of the world and his life, and then rates them out of five stars.

Diet Doctor Pepper: four stars. Sunsets: five stars. Our Capacity for Wonder: three-and-a-half stars.

The Anthropocene is a proposed geological epoch – or period of time. It sits alongside, but is more recent than, other well-known epochs, like the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, and proposes that the Holocene – approximately 9,700 years ago to now, from the ice age to human development – actually stops when humans started having an impact on the planet. This human impact, human-caused climate change, defines the Anthropocene.

The book centres itself on humans and the things we have created, and the history that can effect and define a person’s life, especially one growing up in America. From essays on Halley’s Comet and the Lascaux Cave Paintings from seventeen thousand years ago, to Super Mario Kart and the performance of a specific Liverpool FC player on May 25th, 2005.

Green writes in the introduction, “I wanted to understand the contradiction of human power: We are at once far too powerful and not nearly powerful enough. We are powerful enough to radically reshape Earth’s climate and biodiversity, but not powerful enough to choose how we reshape them. We are so powerful that we have escaped our planet’s atmosphere. But we are not powerful enough to save those we love from suffering.”

The Anthropocene Reviewed is occasionally funny, always informative and above all else a meaningful book that is just as much about the joy that humans have created as it is about the problems we made along the way.

By Bethany Climpson, Sustainability Engagement Assistant

Share this page:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *