Publication Details

Castree, N. (2015). Geographers and the discourse of an earth transformed: influencing the intellectual weather or changing the intellectual climate?. Geographical Research, 53 (3), 244-254.


This article considers how geographers might choose to respond to many geoscientists' claims that we are entering 'the age of humans'. These claims, expressed in the concepts of the Anthropocene, planetary boundaries and global tipping points, make epochal claims about Earth surface change that are also far-reaching claims upon Earth's current inhabitants. The scale and scope of their normative implications are extraordinarily grand. After describing the content and wider context for these claims, the history of some geographers' engagement with global change research is sketched and their current contributions described. Wider alterations in the modus operandi of global change scientists seem to offer a perfect opportunity for geographers to demonstrate the intellectual and societal value of their discipline's 'integrative' aspirations. However, the article suggests that this opportunity is likely to be used in a rather conservative way that downplays the sort of wide, deep and plural forms of integrative analysis that a post-Holocene world surely calls for. Such forms exist in geography but are currently not, by and large, feeding into wider debates in global change research about how to understand and influence the future of Earth and humanity. The question is: how might they serve to alter the intellectual climate prevailing in global change research as Future Earth becomes the new umbrella for its next phase of development?



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