The Anthropocene idea has been embraced by Earth scientists and English professors alike. But how useful is it?
This returns us to the basic problem that the Anthropocene drives home: as Hannah Arendt observed in The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), the idea of human rights… is a chimera and a cruel taunt without a political community that can make it good through robust institutions and practices. The Anthropocene shows how far the world is from being such a polity, or a federation of such polities, and how much is at stake in that absence. ..
In the face of all these barriers, what could all this talk about the Anthropocene possibly accomplish? Ironically, a useful comparison lies in Arendt’s target, the mere idea of human rights. While mere ideas are in fact sorry comforts in an unmanageable situation, they can be the beginning of demands, projects, even utopias, that enable people to organise in new ways to pursue them. The idea of human rights has gained much of its force this way, as a prism through which many efforts are focused and/or refracted.
Also see Robyn Eckersley:
Anthropocene raises risks of Earth without democracy and without us