2. When Did the Anthropocene Begin?

In weeks two and three, we will examine the debate over when the Anthropocene started. While many scholars have pointed to the Industrial Revolution and in particular the coal-powered steam engine as the time where mankind began inscribing its history on the geologic record – often called “The Great Acceleration” – others have suggested that we need to move back to the beginning of agriculture. We will discuss the timescales of human activity on Planet Earth and how we can trace systemic interactions in time and space. The question of when the Anthropocene started and how we can know it is not a trivial one, as it fundamentally hinges on our understanding of causes and effects of the Anthropocene. During these two weeks, students will begin extensively discussing literature and important concepts in discussion forums.