We live in a period often called the Anthropocene—quite simply, an era when human impact on the environment has become acutely visible, a dominant force. “The Anthropocene represents a new phase in the history of the Earth,” McKenzie Wark writes in Molecular Red, “when natural forces and human forces became intertwined, so that the fate of one determines the fate of the other.” In this cosmology, God is dead, replaced by fallen humans who continue to pillage the Earth. Perhaps in smaller numbers, Wark suggests, the environment’s natural cycles and capacity for regeneration could have tolerated us. But now humans live in such numbers and amid such a flurry of over-industrialization that the planet can’t recover. “One molecule after another is extracted by labor and technique to make things for humans, but the waste products don’t return so that the cycle can renew itself. The soils deplete, the seas recede, the climate alters, the gyre widens: a world on fire.
”Wark’s outlook might again strike us as nihilistic and/or alarmist. But in our mundanely chthonic new world order, it’s actually the soul of descriptive realism. In the Anthropocene, apocalypse is titrated out with each molecule of carbon burned. It is a daily, slow-motion horror. For some to look at this tableau and, against all evidence to the contrary, still fantasize about a better era to come is a striking act of naiveté, bordering on delusion. The future, with all of its ideological baggage, and its smoldering graveyard of unfulfilled dreams, has failed us. We’d do well to abandon it, and start figuring out how we might survive the present.
Source: Future Fail | Jacob Silverman