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My generation are natives of the Anthropocene – we have never known a world that wasn't ending. I use the word 'world' because it also, funnily enough, means “age of man”. Either the world will end with the destruction of the anthrop or with the anthrop giving up its reign and renegotiating a new relationship with our environment.

Fiy: For me, especially during current times, I think the Anthropocene is encapsulated by the square view of my term-time bedroom window; it is the understanding that each glance taken is not only unique (exemplified by the fleeting cars and high-rise buildings under construction), but also, very much limited (the horizon).

Zaph: The Anthropocene term was not something I was immediately familiar with. However I did some further research and I do understand the significance of the current debate around definitions. I feel the time to be involved on debate and conversation about climate has run out. I think the real urgency now is for action on climate to be implemented. It is incredibly worrying to me that our limited time to act is vanishing fast and very little is being done.

The Anthropocene has been criticised for grouping people together as a ‘species,’ but different groups have different impacts on the environment. What are your thoughts about this? Jayant: The Encyclopaedia Britannica states that the Anthropocene is “characterised as the time in which the collective activities of human beings (Homo sapiens) began to substantially alter Earth’s surface, atmosphere, oceans, and systems of nutrient cycling”. Different groups do affect the environment differently, but it’s the collective impact on the planet that changes the climate as a whole over time. Considering the efforts that the varieties of groups need to put together for the Earth’s better future, perhaps the Anthropocene is more right than wrong in counting us as one species.

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Maggie: Different groups do have different impacts on the environment. Developing countries experience 99% of all deaths and 90% of all economic losses from weather-related disasters, but the world’s 50 least-developed countries account for only 1% of global carbon emissions. This is why we have the concept of climate justice. But it’s undeniable that the Anthropocene is a unique event in Earth’s history, and it would be irresponsible of us to claim that humans as a whole aren’t causing unprecedented and unsustainable damage to the planet. The Anthropocene and climate justice are perfectly compatible terms: only when we acknowledge that humans have done immense harm to our environment will we be able to see – and rectify – the accompanying inequality and injustice.

April: As someone who grew up in Australia, I am particularly concerned that Australia’s indigenous population is not listened to. When the especially devastating bushfires occurred in 2020, there was an atmosphere amongst my British classmates of this being the inevitability of some foreign place. Their severity was a direct result of colonialism and desperation to westernise Australia, a careless government and a land shared unequally. One of my earliest memories is watching fire-resistant gumtrees being demolished and replaced with two-storey houses, which stand no chance against bushfire. Nobody locally asked for it – it was someone rich and far away, who didn’t even try to understand the land or the people who cultivated it. There must be transparency and accountability; there has to be, and we have to listen to each other if we want to stand any chance at all.

Zaph: I agree that different people have different impact on the environment based on the area they live in. Quality of life can wildly differ from country to country, some having less industry and manufacturing, and people can have a much smaller carbon footprint than others, or much less mass farming or more cars. For me, the term species is reductive and doesn’t fully encompass the complex and varied factors that contribute to the climate crisis. To speak generally, there is so little change that each individual person can make that would affect the whole planet, even if we all made changes, when it is the big corporations, industries and governments that create and contribute to the majority of the damage.

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