Room 6
The 'good Anthropocene': mitigation for positive change into the 'Philanthropocene'

Although it is common to focus on the negative aspects of the Anthropocene and the dystopian futures associated with the Misanthropocene, it is certainly possible for humans to act to mitigate the adverse consequences of human-produced climate change and the inevitable social upheavals that will follow. The declaration of a ‘Climate Crisis’ as a state of emergency highlights the need for urgent action, in advance of a universal consensus on how to slow the harmful impacts of the Anthropocene on the inhabitants of our planet and ensure a Philanthropocene.

The ‘good Anthropocene’ calls for a change in rhetoric – we must not accept defeat as the losers in a war against climate change, but remain optimistic towards systemic changes to the way humans live on the planet.

Nature-based solutions can result in the decarbonization of our economy, help us reduce net emissions and create a cleaner world. In working towards co-curating ecosociologically constituted multispecies worlds, we can support resilient socioecosystems, biodiversity, improved human and non-human wellbeing. This  looks to move beyond actions that continue to privilege human agencies that sustain inequalities, towards a pluriversity of affective ecosociological potentialities of (post-)human and nonhuman inhabitants.

Exhibit 6.1

Digitally-reproduced landscape

Click the image to read curatorial interpretations

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Bright Spots: Seeds of a Good Anthropocene, an initiative funded by Future Earth, identify a three-step process to the implementation of a feasible ‘good Anthropocene’. These are: to identify the characteristics and values of a ‘good Anthropocene’ through diverse community research; to understand the processes and environments in which the fundamental transformation of human-environmental relationships take place; and to strategize the use of (social, technological, economic, or social-ecological) initiatives, or ‘seeds’ that are radical, yet realistic, to implement effective, lasting change for a future world.

 

Throughout their research, Bright Spots have established six trends of ‘seed’ initiatives: ‘Agroecology’, social-ecological approaches to food production and agricultural landscapes; ‘Green Urbanism’, enhancing the habitability of urban environments; ‘Future Knowledge’, nurturing education and knowledge to facilitate societal change; ‘Urban Transformation’, innovation in urban social-ecological spaces; ‘Fair Futures’, impartial and democratic approaches to policy decision-making; and ‘Sustainable Futures’, promotion of social movements to achieve sustainable goals. These areas identified have the potential to implement positive human-pioneered change, to mitigate the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change and social injustice.

Key transformations for the development of a ‘good Anthropocene’ that have been highlighted by other scholars include the transformation of Western capitalism, increased communication between individuals allowing for a democratic multiplicity of ideas, and debunking the current Anthropocentric (human-focused) way of thinking, to improve relationships between humans and other species on Earth.

Can we avoid colonising  the future with our current ideas of business-as-usual solutions to living in the Anthropocene, which suggest the problems of the present will be fixed by the technologies of the future?  If we see the future differently, we can affect how we see our present and we can engage more affective action. Instead of being afraid of change and attempting to make uncertainty invisible, change needs to be celebrated in our understanding of the generosity, diversity and difference of the world expressed in radically different ways. 

The exhibits in this room embody one or more characteristics of the ‘good Anthropocene’ that have the potential to transform aspects of society to a positive effect. These include the use of technology to rebuild ruined landscapes and ways to communicate with beings from past and future worlds.

Exhibit 6.3

Ullyesand pigment

Click the image to read curatorial interpretations

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Further reading:

Bennett, E. M., et al., 2016. Bright spots: seeds of a good AnthropoceneFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment 14/8, 441-448.

Clifford, J., 2013. Returns: Becoming Indigenous in the 21st Century. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Colebrook, C., 2019. The Future in the Anthropocene: Extinction and the Imagination. In A. Johns-Putra (Ed.), Climate and Literature. Cambridge Critical Concepts,  Cambridge University Press, 263-280.

 

Dryzek, J. S. and Pickering, J., 2018. Anthropocene: the good, the bad, and the inescapable. In: The Politics of the Anthropocene. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1-19.

 

Haraway, D. J., 2016. Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham, NC: Duke University Press,

 

Haraway, D. J., 2016.  Manifestly Haraway, University of Minnesota Press, ProQuest Ebook Central.