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Climate change and the Anthropocene: both terms are commonplace, but their consequences are contested as their origins continue to be studied. Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen’s idea that humans came to exert a force for change in the earth’s ecology from the late 18th century neatly conflated the onset of the Industrial Revolution in England with the start of the Anthropocene. Other dates have been proposed.
The latter is about much more than the increased emission of Green House Gases but these remain a key feature of these changes that may be altering the material flows that sustain human civilizations.
To a student of history, the issue of origins cannot be separated from when, where and how the pace, scope and nature of environmental transformation underwent epochal shift.
A peace among nations and between people requires a peace with the fabric of life. History has no silver bullet solutions but is vital to know how we came to this cross roads.
This episode of BIC Talks was adapted from the in-person lecture by Prof. Mahesh Rangarajan in collaboration with Azim Premji University as part of their Let’s Talk Climate Change talk series.
Prof Mahesh Rangarajan teaches History and Environmental Studies at Ashoka University, Sonipat, Haryana. He is also Chair of the Ashoka Archives of Contemporary India.
Educated at the universities of Delhi and Oxford, he has taught at Cornell, Jadavpur and Delhi. He has also served as Director of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. His first book, Fencing the Forest was published in 1996 and the most recent, Nature and Nation in 2015. Co-edited works include Battles over Nature (2003), Environmental History as if Nature Existed (2010), Shifting Ground ( 2014), Nature without borders (2014) and At Nature’s edge (2018).