From everyday life to deep evolutionary time: Anthropocene and contacting temporal scales

New forthcoming talk:

2015, Dec 19 (h.11-13) – III Convegno Nazionale SIAA Società Italiana di Antropologia Applicata, Polo Universitario Città di Prato: From everyday life to deep evolutionary time: Anthropocene and contacting temporal scales (Session “Mitigation, Adaptation, Vulnerability. Analisi di strategie, pratiche e retoriche delle comunità nel contesto dell’Antropocene”). With Enrico Giustiniano Micheli, Elena Bougleux, Nadia Breda et al. Conference Talk. [Ac]

To enable cross-referencing of geologic formations and events from different places on the planet, geologists have subdivided the Earth’s history in periods and eras. Among the concluded periods, the shortest one, Neogene, lasted for more than 20 million years (My), while the longest periods amount to 200+ My. The enormity of these time intervals is hard to imagine, yet necessary to capture and define all the phenomena that are meaningful for the history of such a huge and old system as the Earth. A different logic – the logic of “deep time” and “macroevolution” – is necessary to reflect on a time scale where the history of not only species, but whole Families and Groups, is nothing but the blink of an eye. The current period, Holocene, has started only 11.700 thousand years (Ky) ago, at the end of the last glacial Age, but a serious scientific proposal was advanced to consider that a different period, the Anthropocene, has already taken over from the Holocene. Homo Sapiens as a biological species is 200 to 150 Ky old. The beginning of cognitively modern humans and their diffusion on global scale is even more recent: 80 to 60 Kya (the period traditionally described as the Palaeolithic Revolution or the “great leap forward”). Rhetorically, Anthropocene puts incommensurable time scales in contact with each other, to show the relevance of what humanity has been realizing in historical times, and even of our everyday behaviors and choices. What are the dilemmas, paradoxes, challenges, and implications of this mental operation?