2nd Annual PalEvo-PalMeso Lecture: Geoanthropology - long-term human interactions with the Earth system

Human societies are exerting major forces on the Earth system in the 21st century. Much debate currently surrounds the question as to whether we have entered a new ‘Anthropocene’ geological epoch. However, a broader, longer-term temporal perspective on human-Earth system, or ‘geoanthropological’, interactions can arguably yield greater insights into the social, geophysical, and environmental underpinnings of our contemporary relationship with the planet. This talk will highlight the ways in which multidisciplinary research combining archaeology, history, Indigenous traditional knowledge, palaeoecology, and Earth system science is providing new levels of detail into how human environmental impacts across the Earth’s major biomes has resulted in feedbacks for the biosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, cryosphere, and atmosphere on a variety of different scales. The talk argues that land use provides a particularly important, tangible lens through which to view these processes and it will use key case studies, extending from the Pleistocene to the Late Holocene, from hunting and gathering to urbanization to the expansion of European colonialism, to highlight how the history of our species is one of increasing entanglement with planetary systems. The talk argues that by studying the diverse deep time record of human-Earth system interactions we can gain a better perspective on the origins, scale, and pace of changes in the 21st century. Not only that, but the past can provide important, practical insights into the complexity and inequality of current relationships with the planet to provide a basis for more just and sustainable futures.

Register to attend.