(Published in Village Magazine, January 2013)
This is an interview with environmental historian Professor John Robert McNeill of Georgetown University author of Mosquito Empires: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1620-1914 (2010); The Human Web (2003); and Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the 20th-century World (2000)
Can you define the Anthropocene? I can, but there are various definitions and mine is no better than the next one. However, for my part, I like to define it as that time period in which human action has had deep impacts on the basic systems of the Earth. Those systems include such things as climate and biogeochemical cycles. Notice I am not saying it is an epoch or an era – the geologists will decide on that.
Can you trace its origin? For my money, it began only in the mid-20th century. But many scientists argue for…
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