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Towards the end of last semester, I found myself growing increasingly fascinated – to the point of contemplating taking on yet another new research direction – with religious language used in recent debates about ecology, the environment, and conservation, as I participated in a faculty discussion group that is hosted by the Science, Technology, and Environmental Studies program at Butler University. There were so many ways that religion came up, from the emphasis of representatives of the “New Conservationism” that the Earth doesn’t need a savior, to the frequent references to the Garden of Eden by all sides, to Donna Haraway’s evocation of Cthulhu in coming up with a name for what is typically called the Anthropocene: the era in which humanity’s global impact is visible in the geological record in a way that no other living things have been. Other suggestions besides the Anthropocene and the Cthulhucene include the Capitalocene, the Narcisscene, and the Megalayan (as a subdivision of the Holocene). If we’re going to playfully explore possible labels, I’ll throw one into the mix: The Monopostocene. If the roots of that term are not clear, I explain it below.
Gabrielle Hecht emphasizes in an article in Aeon that the “we” that is in view when people talk about the imminent danger to the Earth – caused by “us” and threatening “us” – looks and sounds very different depending on where one is situated in the world. It strikes me as ironic and yet unsurprising that, in the very act of situating ourselves as central to the unfolding narrative of global history, we fail to notice that we cannot and should not situate all of humankind together – unless we mean it. Not all have caused climate change equally, and poor communities stand to bear the brunt of the impact....
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