Learning to Die in the Anthropocene

Posted on June 16th, 2016 by:

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Learning to die in the Anthropocene is a book that is relevant to everyone who is alive right now, as well as other books like it. Right from the get go I was taken in by the urgency, concern, and compelling writing by Roy Scranton. By the time I had finished the introduction I already knew that this was going to be an incredible book. In the book Learning to die in the Anthropocene, Roy Scranton explains to his readers about his history in the Iraq war, and how that changed his philosophy on his life. War can have a dramatic effect on people, and the way Roy Scranton dealt with his experience was by learning to accept his mortality. While he was faced with life threatening situations he “learned how to die” and accepted that eventually his time might come. After returning from Iraq safely, Scranton unfortunately made it home in time to see the devastation of hurricane Katrina in 2005. After seeing this, Scranton realized that although our wars are still being waged and countries are divided, collectively humanity has a bigger problem. The problem in front of us is more serious than our battles between religious groups, terrorist groups, or defending our borders, because nature is a force that can wipe us out. It doesn’t matter if you’re from the U.S, Italy, Cuba, Mexico, or anywhere, nature is indiscriminate. Our actions right now in the industrialized nations are only speeding up the process of global warming. Since the short amount of time that humans have had modern technology, the earth’s average temperature has risen until 2015 being the hottest year on record. This is an increase after a very long period of time where the earth’s average temperature remained pretty much the same. Roy Scranton gives a very detailed analysis of how we got here to this point where our green house gas emissions have gotten so bad that the earth’s polar ice caps will melt, coral reefs will disappear, and earth’s weather patterns have become more severe. Scranton also gives a blow by blow of what solutions there may be to the situation, but ultimately in Scranton’s words “we’re fucked.” There’s no hiding from this situation, at this point in history, it’s not  a matter of “if” but when and how severely will we be affected by this increase in the earth’s temperature. The unfortunate thing is that, from my point of view, there may be nothing that will actually be done about this. We rely so heavily on fossil fuels, and to decrease our use of this nonrenewable resource would mean taking huge economic hits globally. Fossil fuels are just too deeply tied to the world’s economy, and to get rid of it would have a staggering effect on us economically. And while many countries meet at U.N summits and exchange words about the global warming crisis, each of those countries CO2 emission levels have only risen. So ultimately, this problem is not going anywhere, and we will never relinquish our reliance on fossil fuels. The only hope we have now is to make our way to Mars, populate, terraform, and start a new life on a new planet, and hopefully learn from our mistakes.

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