Why Political Ecology Cannot Let Go of Nature

Sean J. McGrath


Overpopulation, climate change, genetic engineering, geoengineering, the mass extinction not only of nonhuman species but of indigenous human cultures and their languages—all of these dubious markers of human progress compel us to think nature anew. None of the familiar epithets apply. We must think nature in the way it is given to us to think it today. No longer is nature accessible to us as divine cosmos or eternally balanced container of human life. Traditional preconceptions of nature have come to an end in the Anthropocene. We can no longer deny the finitude of the earth; we can no longer pretend that it will remain what it is for us now, that it is invulnerable to what we do.

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