Governing the Anthropocene
18:00 – 19:30
University of Liverpool, Rendall Building, Lecture Theatre 6
Bedford Street South
In what has been dubbed the ‘Anthropocene’ epoch, humans are having unprecedented effects on natural systems. Yet so much environmental policy is inherently conservative, anchoring objectives to ‘ideal’ historical baselines, informed by a mix of science, history, and cultural norms. Such baselines are becoming increasingly untenable, and there is palpable anxiety in the academic literature and environmental press about how we should act, particularly in areas where ecosystems are transforming or becoming so-called ‘novel’ ecosystems.
This talk explores some of the major moral, legal, and practical challenges of the Anthropocene and how we might confront them. Many of the questions raised in the literature are not data gaps, but normative questions about decision-making, responsibility, and social desirability that lie in that tricky grey area known as ‘governance’. Focusing on research in Europe and Australia for Sarah Clement's forthcoming book, Governing the Anthropocene: Novel Ecosystems, Transformation and Environmental Policy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020), we will explore how large-scale challenges such as climate change, wildfire, and significant socio-economic transitions are undermining conventional ideas of who decides, how we act, and even why we take action.