What Can We All Learn From the Earth?

“Lexicon for the Anthropocene yet Unseen” begins with an introduction written by Cymene Howe and Anand Pandian, that questions the term “Anthropocene” itself. The term is inherently human-focused in it’s meaning. It acknowledges the role humans play in the evolution of the world and its changing climate. Howe and Pandian note that critics view the naming of the geological age the “Anthropocene” as far too human-centered, too “anthropocentric” as it were. It is problematic when we assert ourselves to such high standing in the natural systems. This is because that outlook generally blinds us to the reality that we are a part of the natural system. 

Howe and Pandian say that the purpose of the lexicon is finding solutions through looking at other patterns and processes of life, and to compare them with the Anthropocentric way of thinking. This is demonstrated later on by comparing human population behavior to the growth patterns of weeds. Both weeds and humans able to easily adapt and spread over the Earth. Perhaps the answers lie in a mixture of new ideas and old, forgotten practices.

The essay “Sustainability” written by María García Maldonado, Rosario García Meza, and Emily Yates-Doerr, goes through how solutions to the climate crisis invented by modern scientists may be methods that do not work in all areas of the globe. Often when experts in the field of climate science look for solutions to climate change, they look for “sustainable” solutions. These are methods that produce less waste, that last for longer periods of time. However, while those sustainable solutions may have perceived positive physical effects, they may also have consequences depending on where they are implemented. Living “sustainably” may not be a way of living that translates the same across the world. It is possible to inflict damage while imposing Western sustainable living practices onto non-western cultures. While it is important to strive to conserve nature and the environment, we should also consider how these solutions affect global populations at a cultural and social level. Many cultures practiced sustainable lifestyles that looked different from the modern, western definition. Some if these lifestyles actually fell out of practice because of imposing western forces. Perhaps there are old methods of sustainable living that should be re-examined as potential solutions to utilize in the future. 

The essay “Care” written by Charis Boke, covers a method of changing our relationship with plants in order to serve as a solution to reduce pollution and the mistreatment of our planet. She discusses North American herbalists and certain rituals some practice to form a special connection with the plants they are harvesting from. They do this ritual to recognize the relationship between themselves and the organism, to acknowledge how both subjects mutually serve each other. It creates an intimacy that can potentially help to understand our role as humans in the environment.  I connected with this section personally. My family, who are passionate about nature and gardening, engage in similar practices of connecting with the botanical species around us. By fostering this relationship with the plants, we enhance and deepen our connection with and appreciation for those forms of life and the environment as a whole. 

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