Erle Ellis, whom has mapped the world’s anthromes, writes an provocative editorial in Wired about what environmentalism means in the Anthopocene. In Stop Trying to Save the Planet he proposes a “postnatural” environmentalism:
Nature is gone. It was gone before you were born, before your parents were born, before the pilgrims arrived, before the pyramids were built. You are living on a used planet.
If this bothers you, get over it. We now live in the Anthropocene ― a geological epoch in which Earth’s atmosphere, lithosphere and biosphere are shaped primarily by human forces.
Yes, nature is still around ― back-seat driving, annoying us with natural disasters from time to time, and everywhere present in the background ― but definitely in no position to take the wheel. That’s our job now. Don’t blame nature for global warming, sea level rise, invasive species, mass extinctions, crop failures and poverty. That’s our thing.
… Ours is a used planet. Thanks to us, Earth has become warmer, less forested and less biodiverse for millenniums.
So what now? First of all, we’ve got to stop trying to save the planet. For better or for worse, nature has long been what we have made it, and what we will make it.
And it’s time for a “postnatural” environmentalism. Postnaturalism is not about recycling your garbage, it is about making something good out of grandpa’s garbage and leaving the very best garbage for your grandchildren. Postnaturalism means loving and embracing our human nature, the nature we have created to feed ourselves, the nature we live in. What good is environmentalism if it makes you depressed about the future?
This is about recognizing that our farms, and even our backyards and cities, are the most important wildlife refuges in the world and should be managed as such. We can keep people out of places we want to think of as wild, but these places will still be changing because of global warming and the alien species we introduce without even trying.