CLIMATE: By making us witnesses to our consumption of the Earth, Anthropocene – the Human Epoch is a planetary portrait that makes room for nuanced irony and wonder, even while urging moral outcry.
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Anders Dunker
Dunker is a Norwegian philosopher, and regular contributor.
Published date: October 11, 2019

Fire, a wall of roaring fire – as you’ve never seen it. Ecstatic, hypnotic, ferocious flames – as if you could stick your head into a furnace and witness the ultimate destruction up close, yourself unscathed, safe. This is how the film starts, exciting and sublime. Only gradually can we fully confirm our disquieting presentiment: that we are not really spectators this time, not to this drama, and that we are not safe – not at all.

The camera hovers over strata of weathered rocks at the beginning of the film, while Alicia Vikander’s phlegmatic voice explains the term that gives the film its name: the Anthropocene, reminding us that the real meaning of this epoch is geological. Human changes to the planet are happening on such a scale that they could, in principle, be traced by geologists millions of years from now. The first such effect of the anthropos might be the sudden extinction of numerous mammal species in the Pleistocene epoch, possibly because of all-too-efficient hunting techniques of ice-age humans. That was even before we entered the stable Holocene epoch and the agricultural era and we began our prosperous, but equally dangerous, expansion.

A radical rupture

Seen from the point of view of geology, the proposed naming of our current epoch, the Anthropocene – epitomized by anthropogenic


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