C. Stager’s Deep Future Book – Review, Science (Aug. 2011)

The role of humans on the global stage is the theme of Curt Stager’s Deep Future. Stager (a paleoecologist at Paul Smith’s College, New York) begins by welcoming readers to the Age of Humans (Anthropocene). He immediately follows with words that will discomfit many traditional conservationists: “Welcome to the end of the natural world as a realm that is somehow meaningfully distinct from humanity.” The remainder of the prologue makes the book’s argument clear: human effects on the globe are pervasive, the processes we are changing are slow, and thus understanding our own impact requires a long temporal perspective. Even those who study global change commonly take 2100 CE as the outer temporal limit for their projections, failing to realize that human effects are, as Stager puts it, “so large, powerful, and long-lived that they cannot be fully understood from a mere century-scale point of view.”

Review written by Scott L. Wing, Department of Paleobiology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20013–7162, USA. E-mail: wings@si.edu

Full version of the review:   Science-2011-Wing-825.pdf