In Britain, the common hedgehog goes into hibernation at just about this time of year. Its body temperature will drop (Hugh Warwick writes) by some 25°C; its heart will slow to five beats a minute; it can go for an hour between breaths. In the case of erinaceus, however, hibernation is triggered not by the cold but by the demands of the academic calendar. In other words, I’m putting the blog on hold until the spring because I’m busy with teaching. Expect a new series of weekly posts to begin next May. Continue reading “Hibernation”


Five Maxims

Throughout this blog so far I’ve stayed pretty close to the arguments I made in The Birth of the Anthropocene. But in each post up till now I’ve also tried to add something new, rather than just reprising what I’ve already said in print. Since this will be the penultimate post on Made Ground this year, though, it seems a good opportunity to give a more explicit summary of the book itself. If you haven’t read The Birth of the Anthropocene but you’d like to know what its argument is, for the purpose of citation, disagreement, or mere curiosity, this post is for you…  Continue reading “Five Maxims”

Eemian Bonds

James Hansen et al., “Young People’s Burden: Requirement of Negative CO2 Emissions,” under review for Earth System Dynamics

Why does the geological version of the Anthropocene matter to ecological politics? Because the ecological crisis has politicized geological time. The clearest pieces of evidence that the crisis has made deep time a political issue are newspaper headlines like the one in last Tuesday’s Guardian: “Planet at its hottest in 115,000 years thanks to climate change, experts say.” Headlines like that one—or like the New York Times’ front-page announcement in 2013 that CO2 levels are at their highest for at least three million years—are the starting point for the account of the Anthropocene that I gave in the book. A new and discombobulating temporal scale has made its presence felt in current affairs. The idea of the Anthropocene epoch is one way of coming to terms (as far as it’s even possible to come to terms) with that disturbance of scale. Continue reading “Eemian Bonds”

On Terra Incognita: Crutzen’s “Geology of Mankind” (part 2)

Part 1

Here’s the second part in an occasional series of fossickings through the great talismanic paper on the Anthropocene, Paul Crutzen’s “Geology of Mankind”— now up to 1877 citations on Google Scholar but not previously, as far as I know, the subject of anything like a detailed close reading. Continue reading “On Terra Incognita: Crutzen’s “Geology of Mankind” (part 2)”