The Anthropocene, or “the age of man,” is a proposed new geological epoch, marking the period from which human civilization has an irreversible and profound impact on Earth’s ecosystems. The beginning of the Anthropocene is most often associated with the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Some scientists originate it from the invention of the steam engine, while others derive the advent of a new era from the rise of civilizations based on agriculture. Nuclear experiments during the Second World War and the first nuclear explosion (Trinity test) also marked a significant leap forward in man’s becoming a geological factor. The concept was coined by ecologist Eugene F. Stoermer in the 1980s, and was widely adopted when the Nobel Prize winner atmospheric chemist, Paul Crutzen published his article The Geology of Mankind (2002) at the beginning of the 2000s. The concept of anthropocene has also become well established in the human sciences, but the official use of the term in the field of earth-system sciences has not yet been accepted. More on the critique of the Anthropocene narrative –> capitalocene
The capitalist economy interested in capital accumulation appropriates raw materials, energy sources, food necessary for production cheaply, and often for free, and does not pay for the labour-power needed to operate the system. Thus, continued growth is guaranteed by the exploitation of wage labour and the depletion of nature. According to Jason W. Moore, a prominent figure in critical ecological thinking, capitalism is not a socio-economic system, but a world-ecological nature-making praxis that is facilitated by the appropriation of cheap nature. His main insight is that capitalism has now exhausted the Four Cheap Resources (labour-power, food, energy, raw materials). And the end of Cheap Nature means that the “unpaid costs” manifest themselves as ecosystem degradation and climate change, which hinder continued economic growth and thus bring about a crisis of capitalism. Moore therefore argues that it is not humanity as a whole which is responsible for the ecological crisis (anthropocene), but that the root of the problem lies in the profit-oriented logic of capitalism (capitalocene).
Deep adaptation is one of the most pessimistic theories about the future of mankind. The concept was introduced by Professor Jem Bendell in 2018, when he summarised the results of various research findings related to climate change and economic trends.
Bendell’s starting point was a sociological statement: throughout the history of mankind, no culture took its own extinction into account – it seems the human psyche has always tried to avoid this thought by all means. However, based on current research, Bendell believes humankind is facing an inevitable and accelerating ecological collapse in the next few decades. Therefore deep adaptation urges the factual acceptance of the collapse of civilisation as we know it, and also calls for the elaboration of mental and emotional survival strategies for this post-collapse world.