ABSTRACT

The stories that the elites of industrial modernity have told themselves about nature as external and purposeless, about the world as resource, about human exemptionalism, about progress and freedom as an escape from nature's determinations and limits, about technology as quasi-autonomous prime mover have served as the cultural origins and conditions of the Anthropocene. The post-nature narrative is therefore paradoxical: in claiming the end of nature as an external thing it abandons the central cosmo-vision of western modernity. The mainstream narrative of the Anthropocene is straightforward: this is the story of a species that evolved 'from hunter-gatherers to global geologic force'. Earth systems science and Anthropocene research have therefore added new arguments focusing on flow limits of the Earth, that is, the limited capacity of Earth biogeochemical processes to buffer human-accelerated cycles of carbon, water, phosphorus, nitrogen and so on.