The New Yorker has just released the third and final part of The Climate of Man, a series of articles by climate journalist Elizabeth Kolbert. These are long, involved pieces based around numerous case studies and make fascinating if frustrating reading.
“A few years ago, in an article in Nature, the Dutch chemist Paul Crutzen coined a term. No longer, he wrote, should we think of ourselves as living in the Holocene, as the period since the last glaciation is known. Instead, an epoch unlike any of those which preceded it had begun. This new age was defined by one creature – man – who had become so dominant that he was capable of altering the planet on a geological scale. Crutzen, a Nobel Prize winner, dubbed this age the Anthropocene. He proposed as its starting date the seventeen-eighties, the decade in which James Watt perfected his steam engine and, inadvertently, changed the history of the earth.”
The entire article is in three parts. The New Yorker doesn’t make articles available online for very long, but several outlets have reproduced them:
This really is required viewing for any aspiring environmentalist – as Alex Steffen over at WorldChanging (where I came across this) put it, “It’s grim but essential reading — the best popular writing on the subject I’ve ever seen”.