Anthropocene Research at Newcastle University aims to
- Deliver world-leading, trans-disciplinary research
- Provide a new and transformative approach to analysis of risk and opportunity in a rapidly changing world
- Designing sustainable responses to intensifying global change across human, engineered and natural systems in the Anthropocene
WHAT IS THE ANTHROPOCENE?
The Anthropocene is useful as a concept to encapsulate the growing evidence base that the interaction of human interventions with the natural world has driven huge changes whereby formerly resilient ecosystems have been pushed into altered and degraded states.
In the Anthropocene, it is arguable that we no longer have natural ecosystems disrupted by humans; the new global paradigm is of human-natural systems that are inextricably linked.
This new world-view challenges our traditional understanding that the physical Earth and natural biosphere are the major agents of global change. Instead we now see humanity as the key agent in planetary-scale change.
MERGING THE SCIENCES AND THE HUMANITIES
The transformation to the Anthropocene in environmental terms is already with us.
Newcastle upon Tyne was at the vanguard of Victorian Age change – it is arguable that the city formed the epicentre of the global carbon economy. At Newcastle University we seek new approaches to address issues in our transformed world by straddling more traditional disciplinary boundaries. Merging the sciences and the humanities, we co-create new knowledge through interdisciplinary research across disciplines. We are developing better modelling and smarter use of resources, with emphasis on new and exciting technologies.
In the 21st century, Newcastle University is spearheading innovative and sustainable solutions to a range of environmental issues. We engage our experts: artists, social scientists, engineers, historians, archaeologists, educationalists, planners, linguists and colleagues from many other disciplines to develop new transdisciplinary approaches.
Throughout, our philosophy is that the Anthropocene comprises “an intellectual lens through which to view the future”.
Our focus on enacting change for humanity and all species on our planet therefore does not depend on formal definition of a new geological epoch.
THE GREAT ACCELERATION
There is debate over when to place the start of the Anthropocene, but since the 1950s, humanity has initiated a ‘Great Acceleration’ of the rate of change towards a fundamentally different world from the Holocene (the post Ice Age era which includes the rise of civilization, the Industrial Revolution and the 20th century population explosion).
Human-induced change and the increase in its effects can be scientifically evidenced using a variety of measures (such as nuclear isotopes in the atmosphere, rising CO2, ice cap melting and ocean acidification).
Today, 80% of the world’s population is under the imminent threat of water insecurity and biodiversity loss.
Over 50% of humanity now lives in cities and there are no ‘pristine’ environments anywhere on Earth not affected by human intervention.
At Newcastle our chosen start point for the Anthropocene is ‘the Great Acceleration’ - the period since 1950 when human impacts on natural and engineered systems increased at an exponential rate. However our extensive work on 'deep histories' both complements, and provides essential context for, this period of enormous change.
“The anthropocene is a way of reimagining the world. The power is in the idea. Much as the renaissance and the enlightenment changed the way people thought, the anthropocene could shape thinking going forward. We can rethink the way the world works - but only if we want to.”
(David Biello, 2016)
- Venue: Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle
- Date: Sun, 19 Mar 2017 18:00:00 GMT
Last modified: Wed, 15 Mar 2017 16:07:58 GMT