The historian has rarely lived through the events of past times that he describes. He has not seen them with his own eyes; rather, he describes them on the basis of the documents at hand, whether these are the yellowed leaves of old codices and parchments, or the brown fossil leaves Continue reading
Tag Archives: deep history
Pondering a diorama to perceive the Anthropocene
“This sprawling epic is as lively as a natural history museum diorama.” (Stephanie Zacharek, review of “10,000 BC”)
Perceiving means to become conscious of, to realize, to understand, to grasp. Natural history museums strive to enable the public to perceive, commonly in re-creations of past worlds. Who hasn’t gazed over a diorama of the Carboniferous Period, for example, Continue reading
“The Story of Big History”
Big History, Deep History, and the Problem of Scale
What does it mean to talk about the anthropocene historically? Thinking about this has forced me to take a closer look at a couple areas of scholarship that I’ve watched grow over the past few years: big history and deep history. These two interdisciplinary projects have recently gained Continue reading
“The onset of the Anthropocene”
Earth, Life, and Time: What is Natural?
Life on Earth has always altered its environment.1 “Deep” time records major shifts in atmospheric composition, for example, as life evolved photosynthesis, leading to a massive transfer of CO2 from the atmosphere to the biosphere. Given this, is the large-scale injection into the atmosphere of anthropogenically released carbon a completely natural consequence of biotic activity?
Atmospheric levels of CO2 have always changed, attributable in part to life — and well before the influence of humans. On geologic time scales such fluctuation results from Continue reading
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