Free seminar by Dr Glenn Albrecht
Thursday 10 November 2016
4.30pm ATC210, Advanced Technology Centre, Callaghan Campus UoN
Refreshments from 4pm - gold coin donation appreciated
Environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht was at the University of Newcastle as Associate Professor of Environmental Studies until December 2008. He retired as Professor of Sustainability at Murdoch University in Perth in 2014, and is now an Honorary Professorial Fellow in the School of Geosciences, The University of Sydney, while working as an independent academic based in the Hunter Region.
Glenn has both theoretical and applied interests in the relationship between ecosystem and human health, broadly defined. He pioneered the research domain of 'psychoterratic' or earth related mental health and emotional conditions with his concept of 'solastalgia' or the lived experience of negative environmental change. Solastalgia has become accepted worldwide as a key concept in understanding the impact of environmental change in academic, creative arts, social impact assessment and legal contexts.
Glenn is a pioneer in transdisciplinary thinking, and his current research is in the positive and negative psychological, emotional and cultural relationships people have to place and its transformation.
Exiting the Anthropocene and Entering the Symbiocene
It has been proposed that humans are now living within a period of the Earth’s history appropriately named ‘The Anthropocene’. The name is derived from the observed human influence and indeed dominance of all climatic, biophysical and evolutionary processes occurring at a planetary scale. Gone is the relative stability and predictability of the past 12,000 years as the established patterns and regularity of Holocene phenology begin to fall into chaos. In the Anthropocene, the so-called ‘new normal’, or what I prefer to conceptualise as ‘the new abnormal’, life will be characterised by uncertainty, unpredictability, genuine chaos and relentless change. Earth distress, as manifest in global warming, changing climates, erratic weather, acidifying oceans, disease pandemics, species endangerment and extinction, bioaccumulation of toxins and the overwhelming physical impact of exponentially-expanding human development will have its correlates in human physical and mental distress. In order to have hope in the face of such distress, and to be able to convert that hope into meaningful change, we must imagine a new meta-meme, one that clearly signposts and paves the way to a good future beyond The Anthropocene. We must rapidly exit The Anthropocene. The word ‘symbiosis’ implies 'mutual living together' and I wish to use this profoundly important concept as the basis for the next period of history I call 'The Symbiocene'.
Let us try and imagine The Symbiocene. The new era will be characterised by human intelligence that replicates the newly discovered symbiotic and mutually reinforcing life-reproducing processes found in living systems. In The Symbiocene, human action, culture and enterprise will be exemplified by those cumulative types of relationships and attributes nurtured by humans that enhance mutual interdependence and mutual benefit for all living beings.
Human development will consist of creative actions that use the very best of biomimicry and symbiomimicry, together with other eco-industrial, eco-technological, eco-agricultural and eco-cultural innovation, to ensure that human societies live, as Aldo Leopold put it, within the biotic community, not in isolation and opposition to the foundations of all life.