Welcome to the Anthropocene: From concept to making it real — ASN Events

Welcome to the Anthropocene: From concept to making it real (7742)

Simon Torok 1 , Owen Gaffney 2 , Felix Pharand-Deschênes 3 , Sturle Hauge Simonsen 4 , Ben Creagh 5
  1. CSIRO Environment Group, Aspendale, Vic, Australia
  2. International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, Stockholm, Sweden
  3. Globaia, Montreal, Canada
  4. Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm , Sweden
  5. CSIRO Environment Group, Brisbane, Qld, Australia

Welcome to the Anthropocene is a website and short film designed to improve our collective understanding of humanity's impact on Earth. It combines insights from some of the leading scientific research institutions on global sustainability with powerful imagery and a video flight over the Earth’s surface to help visualise and better understand humanity's geographic imprint in recent time. The Anthropocene video (at www.anthropocene.info) has gone viral, having been viewed by about a million people as of June 2013; a year after its launch it is still being talked about on Twitter and other social media, and is finding new audiences on other platforms such as in educational material linked to the Hollywood film After Earth.

Our species’ whole recorded history has taken place in the geological period called the Holocene – the brief interval stretching back 10,000 years. But our collective actions have brought us into uncharted territory – humanity is now influencing every aspect of the Earth on a scale akin to the great forces of nature. If our descendants look back in thousands of years’ time, they’ll see the evidence of our actions written everywhere in the rocks. A growing number of scientists think we’ve entered a new geological epoch that needs a new name – the Anthropocene, a term first used by Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen in February 2000 (Crutzen and Stoermer, 2000).

We are at a crossroad in environmental communication where the science is clear, the data are available, the visualisation tools are affordable, and the diffusion networks are global and free. Advances in visualisation tools, increases in global internet access, and the proliferation of social media have created new opportunities for communicating science in general – and climate change in particular. This paper will include a viewing of the short film, Welcome to the Anthropocene, and provide guidelines for achieving impact through visualisation by explaining the communication activities that led from the initial Anthropocene website concept to the use of the film by United Nations Secretary Ban Ki-Moon to open the Rio + 20 Conference in Brazil.

  1. Paul J. Crutzen and Eugene F. Stoermer (2000). The “Anthropocene”. IGBP Newsletter, 41, May 2000, pp 17 – 18. http://proclimweb.scnat.ch/portal/ressources/1700.pdf