Wednesday, June 22, 2016

''Anthrocene'' vs. ''Anthropocene'' - Neil deGrasse Tyson supports Andy Revkin's 1992 proposal to use the shorter form of ANTHROCENE and global movement builds to shorten the term.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson has told Mr Andy Revkin at NYT that he agrees that the shorter "Anthrocene" term (a term which Andy proposed in 1992 as Dot Earth has explained elsewere) is easier to say and write than the longer, hard to-pronounce on TV chat shows [and even in daily conversation] academic term of "Anthropocene".
RE: ANDY WROTE TODAY at -- "Tyson also talked with me about the emerging idea that Earth has entered a new geological epoch named for us — the Anthroopocene. (He said he prefers my 1992 “Anthrocene” proposal — fewer syllables, simpler.)"
And I agree and have agreed since I first read Andy's post about this earlier on Dot Earth, so hear hear! While the longer A term is embedded in academic lingo now and will be hard to un-embed, Neil and Andy are right on and it would be intersting to see what other folks here think. Words matter and language matters, and for talk show hosts and newspaper headline writers, using the easy to say and write "Anthrocene" term, could boost the shorter term's possibilities. We already say ''Pliocene'' and ''Holocene'' (see how easy they are to say?) and by taking Andy's proposal from 1992 (1992!) to use the short form of Anthrocene, the media could go a long way in helping the public to better know this important term. Also, the Briti say the longer form their way, with emphasis on THROP, so it comes out in the UK as ''an-THROP-ocene'' while Yanks say it as "AN-thropocene. So there is that confusion to across the ponds, Australia, too. .................................I vote for Andy's proposal. ...........YOU?


I’m attending because of a quirky role I played almost 20 years ago in laying the groundwork for this concept of humans as a geological force. A new paper from Steffen and three coauthors reviewing the conceptual and historic basis for the Anthropocene includes an appropriately amusing description of my role:

Biologist Eugene F. Stoermer wrote: ‘I began using the term “anthropocene” in the 1980s, but never formalized it until Paul [Crutzen] contacted me’. About this time other authors were exploring the concept of the Anthropocene, although not using the term. More curiously, a popular book about Global Warming, published in 1992 by Andrew C. Revkin, contained the following prophetic words: ‘Perhaps earth scientists of the future will name this new post-Holocene period for its causative element—for us. We are entering an age that might someday be referred to as, say, the Anthrocene [sic]. After all, it is a geological age of our own making’. Perhaps many readers ignored the minor linguistic difference and have read the new term as Anthro(po)cene!


Anonymous said...

Nick Cave uses the term anthrocene. If its good enough for him it should be good enough for all.

Anonymous said...

Good point, Nick Cave can help the word reach many (open) ears.

Brian Burke said...

And, truly, what could more succinctly sum up our modern age than the dumbing of something down to make it more appropriate for mass consumption?


Thanks for feedback here, Brian. Cheers, Dan