Book Review: The Anthropocene Epoch
Reviewed by Joe Walters
Important. Impactful. Surprising.
The Anthropocene Epoch: When Humans Changed the World is about as good of a book on the climate crisis as I could have asked for. Supremely readable and undeniably informative, it has what it takes to transform everyday citizens from unknowing contributors in the end of the world to enthusiastic and active participants in its possible salvation.
Human activity has influenced the climate and the environment. This is undeniable. “The ten warmest years on record have occurred since 2005.” Enough ice to submerge the entire state of California in four feet of water has broken off and melted into the sea—in the year 2019 alone. Bruce Glass does something remarkable with The Anthropocene Epoch: Not only does he manage to present the facts in easy-to-understand language, he manages to make it all surprisingly optimistic.
We know we need to make changes. We even know how to do it. It’s a matter of acting on it now—whether from your single-family home or from the voting booth.
Expressing how urgent it is that we understand our impact on the natural world is only the first half of this discussion. Its closing comments are in what we can do to stop our grandchildren from living in a world on the brink of its sixth extinction.
Author Bruce Glass tells a complete story of how we’ve arrived and where we are going. The earth has gone through extinction-level events before (five to be exact), and we go through each one early on in the book. Then, we arrive at the small fraction of time humans have been on the planet. We may be making our lives more convenient and our standards of living higher, but we have “altered nearly half of our planet’s land surface area.” We have dammed and diverted almost all major rivers. Cut down trees. Filled our air with enough cow farts & burps to rapidly change our atmosphere.
And the earth is responding with warmer climates and catastrophic storms.
What can we do to stop this?
“Will we work to protect the natural earth from which humankind arose to ponder the universe and our own role and accountability within it?”
Potentially unexpected for those seeking the history and future of our natural world, this book also discusses, in a chapter called “Are We to Blame?,” how American politics has downplayed the severity of the climate crisis, has put campaigns and funds in front of protecting the planet, and how there has historically been one party in particular that has hindered improvement in the climate crisis.
One of Glass’s primary goals is moving us forward: uniting us on the realities of the future and showing us how to see through the disinformation that politicians use in order to further their political goals. The book may take a side politically, and it may go into detail for a little while longer than you might expect, but it’s true that politics has and will impact the way we treat our planet, so it’s understandable and important for it to be part of this discussion.
I have no doubt that this book will be right near the top when I’m choosing the best books I’ve read this year. A terrifically important piece on the future of our planet, The Anthropocene Epoch: When Humans Changed the World will inspire readers to take an objective view of our choices and to act on them before it’s too late.
Genre: Nonfiction / Climate & Environment
Print Length: 220 pages
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