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Humans in the Anthropocene

In this article we will look to identify how the Figure of the Human is challenged in the Anthropocene. The human has become a geological actor of planetary scale. In fact, humans move over 24 times as much material on the planet’s surface as is done by natural forces, such as rivers moving sediments to the ocean.
In this article we will look to identify how the Figure of the Human is challenged in the Anthropocene.
The human has become a geological actor of planetary scale. In fact, humans move over 24 times as much material on the planet’s surface as is done by natural forces, such as rivers moving sediments to the ocean. This is due to the building of houses, cement production, the expansion of roads and reclaiming land for agriculture. It is also due to the extraction of raw materials from mountains and the ground. While cities today are often built on earlier settlements and artificial ground, humanity’s impact on the Earth has increased dramatically since the Second World War.

A Man-Made Problem

Studies show that the amount of things, gadgets, cars, airplanes, houses etc. (i.e. materials produced by humans) take up an enormous and increasing proportion of the planet. Human-made materials now weigh more than the sum of the weights of the bodies of all living creatures on the globe. Every week, the addition of new things adds up to the weight of the almost 8 billion people living on Earth.

Anthropogenic Action

In the Anthropocene, human action capacity has increased enormously. This also changes how to understand the figure of the human. First of all, humans are not only cultural actors, but also, and with and increasing force, geological actors. Secondly, anthropogenic action causes climate change through several life-style choices, such as the burning of fossil fuels. Hence, the understanding of a human as an individual with action capacity only within in a local geographical range and only within a life time is flawed. Instead the figure of the human in the Anthropocene extends well beyond each person’s life-time and geographical position. The results of human action extends across the globe and affects several futures to come.
We are dealing with a hyper-anthropos and the concept of the human is under debate.
This article draws from the following works:
A.H. Cooper, T.J. Brown, S.J. Price, J.R. Ford and C.N. Waters. 2018. Humans are the most significant global geomorphological driving force of the 21st Century. The Anthropocene Review. https://doi.org/10.1177/2053019618800234
https://www.science.org/news/2020/12/human-stuff-now-outweighs-all-life-earth
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