Anthropocene Extinction Period
The first reference to the Anthropocene was made by Eugene Stoermer in the 1980s. The idea was given greater support in the work of Nobel-prize winning scientists, Paul Crutzen. The term refers to the identification of a 6th wave of extinction that began, for some researchers, with the Industrial Revolution and thus is specific defined (using the “Anthro” designation) as a period where humans adversely impact species extinction rates. He elevated rate of extinction during the Anthropocene are linked to the acceleration of climate change, deforestation, and the expansion of the human ecological footprint (see variously: Parmesan and Yohe 2003; Thomas et al. 2003; Thuiller et al. 2005; Vackar 2012; see generally, Barnosky et al. 2011; Lomolio et al. 2001; Steffen, Crutzen and McNeil 2007; Steffan et al. 2011; Zalasiewcz et al. 2010).
Scientists estimate that the extinction rate during the Anthropocene is approximately 10,000 times the background rate – that is, 10,000 times higher than would normally be expected. For example of graphs depicting the historical trend in species extinctions see: species extinction graphs.
What are the implications of this scientific literature on the Anthropocene for green criminologists? Simply put, the link these scientific studies make between the industrial revolution and species extinction draw attention to, first, how humans influence species extinction, and second and more specifically, the role human production and consumption practices play in producing adverse ecological consequences that drive species extinction. Given the latter connection, green criminologists should pay greater attention to the macro-level dynamics of species extinction and call attention to that process rather than to case studies of the extinction threats to individual species.
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