Public Brock talk to explore ‘living in the Anthropocene’

MEDIA RELEASE: November 20 2023 – R0110

An upcoming free public lecture will investigate what it means to be living in the Anthropocene — a proposed new epoch in geological time.

Following the announcement of annually layered sediments of Crawford Lake, Ont., being selected as the proposed ‘golden spike,’ Brock Earth Sciences Professor Francine McCarthy and Philosophy Professor Christine Daigle will explore key questions about an important transdisciplinary concept spurred by the significant scientific advancement.

The pair will share insight from their respective fields during ‘Are we now living in the Anthropocene?’ at the Niagara Falls History Museum on Thursday, Nov. 23.

McCarthy, a micropaleontologist whose research focuses on lakes as natural archives of environmental health, has led Brock’s involvement in defining the new geological epoch.

During Thursday’s talk, McCarthy will discuss how clear evidence of human impact as early as the 13th century has shaped the course of history, while also emphasizing it is the culmination of human impacts that overwhelmed and permanently altered the Earth system during the ‘Great Acceleration’ of the mid-20th century.

“The initiative to define the Anthropocene as a geologic epoch has implications well beyond the Earth sciences, and the selection of Crawford Lake as the proposed GSSP (‘golden spike’) location underscores this,” McCarthy said.

The talk will explore the indicators that have triggered the new epoch, drawing on the scientific evidence preserved in the unique sediments of Crawford Lake.

But, as noted by McCarthy and Daigle, in addition to defining the Anthropocene itself, humans must now consider how to live in the Anthropocene, and most importantly, reflect on what can be learned from the scientific evidence and how it can shape human behaviour moving forward.

This is of particular interest to Daigle, an expert in existentialist philosophy and feminism whose research in recent years has focused on the notion of environmental vulnerabilities, including philosophical questions about the Anthropocene and the concept of extinction.

“Learning about the Anthropocene scientifically also triggers philosophical questions about human responsibility toward the Earth systems and all living beings — urgent questions in this ongoing environmental crisis,” Daigle said.

Everyone is welcome to attend the free public lecture on Thursday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Niagara Falls History Museum.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews: 

* Doug Hunt, Communications and Media Relations Specialist, Brock University or 905-941-6209

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