Imagining the Anthropocene

The Anthropocene is a very hard topic to discuss because it is very hard to imagine a world different from the one we see today. The rapid change that has occurred on Earth and especially with the evolution of human beings is astonishing. Humankind is a mere blip on the spectrum of Earth’s history yet in this very small amount of time we have managed to completely alter our environment. And even though all this change has happened quickly, humans cannot really imagine the world not looking the way it does now. Understanding climate change and our environment is difficult because humans are visual creatures, we need to see it to believe it. That is where is benefit of storytelling comes in.

In Alexa Weik Mossner’s “Imagining Geological Agency: Storytelling in the Anthropocene,” she explains the advantage of storytelling by saying, “it can help us to imaginatively experience the impact of that geophysical force that is the human.” Storytelling, specifically through film, can help humans understand our force on the environment without being too technical. Through literature or film the Anthropocene can be made into a story that affects the life of a character that the audience is emotionally attached to. While this element of storytelling can be beneficial, it can also pose some problems.

Courtesy of William Lamson, A Line Describing the Sun, 2010

The nature of the movie industry is to have a hero, someone who despite everything survives and conquers the day. With this particular subject matter, it would be unrealistic to show humans, or one particular human, overcoming a natural disaster and saving the world in a mere two hours. A film about the Anthropocene should tie readers in without perpetrating the myth that humans can control a natural disaster. Finding the fine line between being honest and endearing is difficult, especially in a movie industry that wants to sell tickets not teach facts. The goal is to make the Anthropocene imaginable, but that is easier said than done.



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