I came across a recent op-ed in the New York Times written by Emma Marris and others, including famous conservation biologist Peter Kareiva of The Nature Conservancy. Emma Marris wrote a book that I’m currently reading called “Rambunctious Garden“. Both the book and the op-ed are about how our human-dominated green areas aren’t a waste of space. In fact, if we can just put a little more effort into these areas (plant animal food plants, reduce pollution and greenhouse gases, limit water use, etc.) we could turn human-altered areas into useful habitat and ecosystems, even within cities and suburbs!
The op-ed is in response to a paper written by researchers from UC Davis (including my fellow 2011 Switzer Fellow, Tavis Forrester). Their paper, published in Conservation Biology and entitled “Conservation in the Anthropocene” is, Marris et al. claims, about how calling this current epoch the “Anthropocene” creates an air of despair- almost like calling this “the age of man” makes people feel that nature is done for. We have already “conquered” (read: destroyed) the earth so why care about it? The Conservation Biology paper authors warn against using the term “Anthropocene”, suggesting it could spark further degradation and exploitation of the earth. I disagree with them. We might as well call it what it is and work with what we’ve got. So do the op-ed writers, check out why for yourself: Hope in the Age of Man.