“The Big Ratchet: How Humanity Thrives in the Face of Natural Crisis: A Biography of an Ingenious Species”

CITATION: R. DeFries. 2014. New York: Basic Books. BOOK WEBSITE: http://www.ruthdefries.com/book/big-ratchet/ ABSTRACT: The human species has long lived on the edge of starvation. Now we produce enough food so that all 7 billion of us could eat nearly 3,000 calories every day. This is such an astonishing transformation as to

The Ecological Circumstances of the Circumstances of Politics

This is the first in a series of posts on Environmental Political Theory. With his famous phrase “the circumstances of politics” the philosopher Jeremy Waldron offers an abstract characterization of what politics are at the most basic level. Waldron holds that

Moral Meaning & Morally Mending (Nature)

THIS POST IS THE WINNER OF THE PRIZE FOR BEST ESSAY BY A GRADUATE STUDENT ON THE QUESTION, “HOW DID THE ANTHROPOCENE BIOSPHERE PROJECT AFFECT THE WAY I UNDERSTAND THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HUMAN BEINGS AND NATURE?” CONGRATULATIONS, ARIELLE! The Anthropocene Biosphere Project has changed the way that I view the relationship between humans and nature. Generally, there are two prevailing beliefs about the role that human beings play

Together, With Nature

THIS POST IS THE WINNER OF THE PRIZE FOR BEST ESSAY BY AN UNDERGRADUATE ON THE QUESTION, “HOW DID THE ANTHROPOCENE BIOSPHERE PROJECT AFFECT THE WAY I UNDERSTAND THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HUMAN BEINGS AND NATURE?” CONGRATULATIONS, MARY! The 2016 Anthropocene Biosphere project brought together intellectuals from various fields to share their intellectual expertise on how humankind is shaping our planet. These experts, through the blog and live presentation, […]

Culture as Climate

THIS POST IS PART OF OUR ANTHROPOCENE BIOSPHERE PROJECT–A SERIES OF POSTS ON ERLE ELLIS’ ‘ECOLOGY IN AN ANTHROPOGENIC BIOSPHERE‘ (ECOLOGICAL MONOGRAPHS, 85/3 (2015)) For ecologists, the meaning should be very clear. The forces of humanity are now akin to those of climate geophysics or biology and therefore as fundamental to understanding the processes that shape […]

On the narrative of cultural evolution and alternatives for human-environmental entanglements

THIS POST IS PART OF OUR ANTHROPOCENE BIOSPHERE PROJECT–A SERIES OF POSTS ON ERLE ELLIS’ ‘ECOLOGY IN AN ANTHROPOGENIC BIOSPHERE‘ (ECOLOGICAL MONOGRAPHS, 85/3 (2015)) Over the past few weeks, our group members have exchanged lively discussion and critique of Erle Ellis’s paper, virtually and in person. At those meetings I have attended, our chats have extended […]

Looking at Lenski

THIS POST IS PART OF OUR ANTHROPOCENE BIOSPHERE PROJECT–A SERIES OF POSTS ON ERLE ELLIS’ ‘ECOLOGY IN AN ANTHROPOGENIC BIOSPHERE‘ (ECOLOGICAL MONOGRAPHS, 85/3 (2015)) Work by sociologist Gerhard Lenski is a key building block in Ellis’ article. Ellis has Lenski in mind when he notes that “Evolutionary theorists and social scientists have made substantial progress toward […]

4 questions about anthroecological theory from a biologist

THIS POST IS PART OF OUR ANTHROPOCENE BIOSPHERE PROJECT–A SERIES OF POSTS ON ERLE ELLIS’ ‘ECOLOGY IN AN ANTHROPOGENIC BIOSPHERE‘ (ECOLOGICAL MONOGRAPHS, 85/3 (2015)) As a wildlife biologist I have questions about the ways Ellis’ anthroecology theory is different from the long history of ecological theory that precedes it. In reading Ellis (2015) four questions occur […]

Cultural Dynamics: An Inside Job

THIS POST IS PART OF OUR ANTHROPOCENE BIOSPHERE PROJECT–A SERIES OF POSTS ON ERLE ELLIS’ ‘ECOLOGY IN AN ANTHROPOGENIC BIOSPHERE‘ (ECOLOGICAL MONOGRAPHS, 85/3 (2015)) In this blog post I will dig into the cultural aspect of sociocultural niche construction. I was concerned about adding my bit without burying it under an extensive set it up, but, […]

The Human Climate

THIS POST IS PART OF OUR ANTHROPOCENE BIOSPHERE PROJECT–A SERIES OF POSTS ON ERLE ELLIS’ ‘ECOLOGY IN AN ANTHROPOGENIC BIOSPHERE‘ (ECOLOGICAL MONOGRAPHS, 85/3 (2015)) To understand this massive and sustained human transformation of Earth’s ecology, it is necessary to consider human societies as a global force capable of interacting with and reshaping ecology across the Earth […]

“When did the Anthropocene begin? A mid-twentieth century boundary level is stratigraphically optimal”

CITATION: Zalasiewicz, J., et al., 2015. Quaternary International, 383, pp. 196-203. ON-LINE AVAILABILITY: DOI:10.1016/j.quaint.2014.11.045 ABSTRACT: We evaluate the boundary of the Anthropocene geological time interval as an epoch, since it is useful to have a consistent temporal definition for this increasingly used unit, whether the presently informal term is eventually formalized or not.

“From hominins to humans: how sapiens became behaviourally modern”

CITATION: K. Sterelny. 2011. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, vol. 366, pp. 809–822. ON-LINE AVAILABILITY: DOI:10.1098/rstb.2010.0301 ABSTRACT: This paper contributes to a debate in the palaeoarchaeological community about the major time-lag between the origin of anatomically modern humans and the appearance of

Hypothesized Hope

THIS POST IS PART OF OUR ANTHROPOCENE BIOSPHERE PROJECT–A SERIES OF POSTS ON ERLE ELLIS’ ‘ECOLOGY IN AN ANTHROPOGENIC BIOSPHERE‘ (ECOLOGICAL MONOGRAPHS, 85/3 (2015)) In preparation for Erle Ellis’ visit to OU’s campus in April, I’ve spent some time considering topics I hope we can address during his visit.

“A Paleolithic Reciprocation Crisis: Symbols, Signals, and Norms”

CITATION: K. Sterelny. 2014. Biological Theory, vol. 9, pp 65-77. ON-LINE AVAILABILITY: DOI: 10.1007/s13752-013-0143-x ABSTRACT: Within paleoanthropology, the origin of behavioral modernity is a famous problem. Very large-brained hominins have lived for around half a million years, yet social lives resembling those known from the ethnographic record appeared perhaps 100,000 years ago. Why did it take 400,000 years for […]

“Beyond DNA: integrating inclusive inheritance into an extended theory of evolution”

CITATION: E. Danchin et al. 2011. Nature Reviews Genetics, vol. 12, pp. 475-486. ON-LINE AVAILABILITY: doi:10.1038/nrg3028 ABSTRACT: Many biologists are calling for an ‘extended evolutionary synthesis’ that would ‘modernize the modern synthesis’ of evolution. Biological information is typically considered as being transmitted across generations by the DNA sequence alone, but accumulating evidence indicates that

“The Global Carbon Cycle: A Test of Our Knowledge of Earth as a System”

CITATION: P. Falkowski et al. 2000. Science, vol. 290, pp. 291-296. ON-LINE AVAILABILITY: DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5490.291 ABSTRACT: Motivated by the rapid increase in atmospheric CO2 due to human activities since the Industrial Revolution, several international scientific research programs have analyzed the role of