We need to think about redefining citizenship in the Anthropocene

Discard Studies

2095961797_1d27dedc4e_b Climate Change Refugees | by ItzaFineDay

Sam Solnick, University of Liverpool

The hottest year on record was 2016. It was also the year scientists advised that Earth’s citizens were now living in the Anthropocene, the name proposed for an epoch in which humans influence geology and environment on a global scale.

The concept of citizenship originally described inhabitants of (probably walled) towns. Some insistence on specificity of place certainly remains, although the concept today generally refers to nations rather than cities. But what are concerned citizens to do in the face of problems such as climate change, which cannot easily be contained by walls or borders, and to which we all contribute?

Alberto Seveso’s cover illustration for a 2015 edition of Nature dedicated to the Anthropocene highlights some of the key factors that turned humanity into a geophysical force, including nuclear technology, the evolution of agriculture, and the industrial…

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