Goodbye Anthropocene – hello Symbiocene! (2023)

2021 update: I am now teaching a unique ONLINE course, Haumea's 7-week Essential Eco-Literacy course, to help creatives and art professionals around the world understand the ecological emergency and what it means for industries creative. see moreon here: Please note that places on the course fill up quickly, but I do maintain a waiting list. Thanks a lot!

January 2020 update: This article will be republished on"Plasticity for the Planet: On the ecological challenges for art and its institutions"VonEditor Magdalena Ziolkowska, U-jazdowski Castle Contemporary Art Center, Warsaw🇧🇷 Milan: Editorial Mousse. This book accompanies the international exhibitionhuman free land(2019), curated by Jaroslaw Lubiak.

The article was also invited to be shared on the Australian-started website:The Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on the Anthropocene(IIRA), February 10,

This paper was originally presented at the 7th EUGeo Summit in Galway 2019 and at the 2019 Three-Day International Conference on the Anthropocene at Trinity College Dublin. More details in the article.

Article: Reviewed October 24, 2019

Goodbye Anthropocene – hello Symbiocene! (1)


In 2013, after leaving her chair to mobilize the world around the moral imperative to save life on Earth, environmental philosopher Kathleen asked Dean Moore

“If your house is on fire, what do you do? […] Of course you put out the fire: there are children in this house, there are billions of children in this house…”[1]

In 2019, the young Greta Thunberg embodies Kathleen's concerns:

“I want you to act like you would in a crisis. I want you to pretend our house is on fire. Because it is."[2]

Goodbye Anthropocene – hello Symbiocene! (2)

This article is for a boy I know whose name is Dara. His name is the Irish word for the great oak of Ireland, trees that hinted at Ireland's rich ecological past and beautiful ancient lands. Dara loves mine for a long timehollywood forest storywork[3]. He says "It's epic!" and I was very fond of our late dog Holly, who was the namesake and co-founder of my forestry artwork. I recently heard that her biggest wish is that her grandfather, a farmer, could give her 2 acres to plant a permanent forest with lots, lots of oak trees.

The planetary emergency we face is a crisis of Western civilization

Planetary emergence is specifically a crisis of the dominant Western civilization, which for millennia was considered separate from and superior to the natural world.[4] In itStrange as war: the global assault on forests(2004), American author Derrick Jensen reports that the earliest written records of Western civilization tell of King Gilgamesh cutting down vast cedar forests in Mesopotamia in search of glory and power.[5]

Today, human activities influence planetary processes.[6] Geologists refer to this unprecedented time in which a species affected the ability to survive on Earth as the Anthropocene, the Age of Man. While some geologists argue that the Anthropocene begins with the great acceleration of industrialization after World War II, the story of Gilgamesh reveals that Western civilization's pattern of ecocide likely began thousands of years ago.

Welcome to the Anthropocene

In 2012, climate scientists bravely tried to mediate the planetary crisis, and some began to use the Anthropocene to frame the planetary emergency. Some audiovisual communicators ordered and a video produced and shown at the Planet Under Pressure [7] summit in 2012 went viral, it was called "Welcome to the Anthropocene". Given this global platform, the idea of ​​the Anthropocene entered the discourses of the humanities and contemporary art.

In the short video "Welcome to the Anthropocene" [8], I initially admired the Earthrise images. The animations graphically showed the impact of man on Earth thousands of years ago. And it has amassed masses of new scientific data to visualize the "great acceleration" of destruction that has occurred through human activities in recent decades.[9] But instead of sounding the alarm, a narrator conveyed a reassuring admiration for our Anthropocene and hinted that we had the ability, science, and technology to overcome difficulties. A short time later, I wrote an essay because I found this history of the Anthropocene problematic.[10]

The age of the sociopath

As for the development of the Anthropocene story, I tend to identify with Jensen's arguments against it.[11] Jensen argues that this Anthropocene story is "extremely misleading and narcissistic." He argues that "[Humanity] is not the one who 'transforms' - reads, kills - the planet. Civilized people are!" He points out that the history of the Anthropocene easily obscures the fact that indigenous peoples, like those in his area, existed for thousands of years without destroying their environment.

Jensen argues that the Anthropocene Era was an era of great ecocide and violence against more earthly cultures and that it should be called "The Age of the Sociopath". American sociologist Charles Derber's extensive thesis confirms that modern industrial civilization is a sociopathic society[13] and the late Native American writer Jack D. Forbes insists that Columbus's conquest of North America is a form of cannibalism against life, "Nass' in their language, extending into modern times.[14] More recently, I have felt that the history of the Anthropocene exemplifies a globalizing identity of white privilege that others ignore.

The Capitalocene or the Plantationocene or the Chthulucene

Others have offered alternatives to the Anthropocene, Jason Moore offers the Capitalocene, which identifies the runaway accumulation of capital as the main culprit behind the recent Great Acceleration.[15] Donna Harraway argues that the Capitalocene is useful and also introduces the related term Plantationocene.[16] The Plantationocene was coined in 2014 and strongly reflects my view that the anti-ecological monoculture planting practices of industrial culture have caused significant harm to the Earth. Naming any type of violence, such as domestic violence or ecocide, is an important first step in overcoming cultures of harm.[17]

But when we know that our planet is on fire and that the madness of monoculture is causing the planet's life support systems to collapse, ideas are urgently needed to help us break free from our mistaken ecocidal worldview. If today's climate scientists proclaim that the game is over in a decade, if we don't radically change the way we do things, Harraway's next step is to stop identifying the causes of the Anthropocene and articulate the Chthulucene, his concept of lifetime. prosperity, interconnected Earth, consisting of people and other types, relevant. She argues that this broader notion can better acknowledge humanity's ecological past and glimpse its slim chance of a restorative relationship with the Earth and its inhabitants.

or symbiocene

In 2016, however, my attention was immediately drawn to an essay titled “Exiting the Anthropocene and Entering the Symbiocene” [18] by Australian philosopher and former sustainability professor Glenn Albrecht. Albrecht's Symbiocene follows his important work in developing new words and concepts such as solastalgia [19] which are now used internationally by ecopsychologists and legal scholars to identify and argue the validity of severe emotional distress and mental health conditions experienced by women. people living near destroyed environments.

The Symbiocene is where humanity must go if it is to survive. Albrecht's term Symbiocene offers a similar insight to Harraway's Chthulucene, as both refer to the revelations of new symbiotic science. In his book, Albrecht offers a complete philosophical and psychosocial framework and new terminology for the Symbiocene Era.Earth Feelings: New Words for a New World.[20]

Symbiotic science helps envision an ecological era

Having previously worked in scientific research and with an interest in ecological forestry, I turned to the new science of symbiosis. Since I already saw my ecosocial art practice as fundamental restoration of symbiotic biodiversity in support of ecological forestry, I recognized the relevance of Albrecht's work to planetary empowerment.

Albrecht's Symbiocene connects directly with symbiotic science, which claims that life survives and thrives through the interrelationship of many species. As Albrecht writes, "symbiosis has now become a major determinant of living conditions" (ibid.) Forest ecology professor Suzanne Simard supports this argument and has particularly popularized advances in symbiotic science through her public TED talks on “mother trees”[21] and forests. She and other research confirm that different tree species in forests send signals and transport nutrients through vast networks of fungi, the network that spans the entire forest. Importantly, symbiotic studies of her show that forests, the most complex and adaptable systems ever to evolve, work well because "forests are super cooperative."[22] The symbiotic science of Simard and others revolutionizes the still dominant story of evolution as a competitor to a radical understanding that life consists of the cooperation of all species.

Simard, like Jensen, acknowledges that the cultural activities of indigenous peoples have helped their forests thrive. Since most of the world's biodiversity remains in areas inhabited by indigenous peoples, there is much to learn from other non-Western cultures. Albrecht also makes an important point for young women, when highlighting the considerable opposition to peer-reviewed forestry by Simard and other early proponents of ecological and symbiotic thinking who were women, is evidence of the "threat to patriarchy, reductionism, and . . . .. have long reigned in academia, science, commerce, and industry.[23]

Evolution as competition, expressed in Darwin's "Survival of the Fittest," encouraged the Age of Enlightenment to view humanity as independent of and superior to all other life. As the Christian religion became more concerned with the afterlife, modern Western society was given permission to view other forms of life on Earth as a resource for progress. Albrecht reflects on the other deadly illusions promoted by the Enlightenment; Individualism, dualism, and human exceptionalism emphasize today's dominant and now globalized anti-ecological worldview, which today's neoliberal ideology has not helped.[24]

"New Words for a New World" - "Soliphilia"

Albrecht's new book is important and I can only refer to some of his most important psychotherapeutic concepts and terms that he uses to build a vision of the symbiocene. Importantly, he envisions Earth's next generation, Generation S (abbreviated "Gen S"), who have a greater awareness of how life depends on symbiotic well-being. He believes that this will stimulate specific emotional states to protect local life. This fosters what he calls "soliphilia," a deep love of place that inspires communities to embrace a new ecological yet secular spirituality and, most importantly, life-sustaining politics.

Soliphilia broadens my awareness to understand the agency, the social power to protect ecosystems that regularly emerges from situated ecosocial art practices (my term for ecological art practice[25]). My ongoing ecosocial art practice, in which I explored ecological forestry to transform the monoculture plantation I live on, fosters a strong soliphilia[26] within me. Since this little 2.5 acre forest we call Hollywood provides me with air, occasional fuel to keep me warm, plenty of comfort, and birdsong, it only took me a few years after I began my practice to realize a keen sense of to protect the prosperity of nature. this forest permanently.

After consulting with a fellow attorney, I learned that I couldn't legally stop deforestation in Hollywood if I wasn't in the country. But in dialogue with leading Irish foresters who were beginning to investigate European continuum forestry, and through my connections with the Irish Green Party, I found my self-promoting national organic forestry policy[27] and lobbied so successfully in support of the ecocide of the late Polly Higgins a law [28].

Goodbye Anthropocene – hello Symbiocene! (3)

In that way, I was in awe but proud of how my practice allowed the Hollywood forest to become the story of the "little forest that could."

“Sumbioregionalismo” – promoted through ecosocial artistic practices

My creative practice is very humble. I watch with interest other artists, such as Northern Ireland researcher Dr. Anita McKeown's largest situated ecosocial art practice, which has developed over a number of years with support from the Irish Environmental Protection Agency. In her co-created resilience project 'Co-Des-Res', she has created a multi-disciplinary ecology and art team developing localized ecological skills for and with the community living on the Iveragh Peninsula, Co. Kerry (see newsletter on this page for an overview of community engagement in general).[29] Today, McKeown frames the work with extensive knowledge of creative permaculture and place-making, using the colorful and increasingly understood symbols of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. However, I can see that such work contributes to what Albrecht sees as the inevitable "subregionalism" and that this is a contribution to the symbiocene.[30]

Albrecht defines a "subbioregion" as an "identifiable biophysical and cultural-geographical space in which people live together and struggle together to restore and create new symbiotic interrelationships between humans, non-human organisms, and landscapes."[31] The Burrenbeo Trust's environmental and cultural programs in the west of Ireland are another great example.[32]

Importantly, as a former professor of sustainability, Albrecht is well versed in understanding that the United Nations concept of sustainable development has failed to stop ecosystem collapse. In his new paper, he shares that in developing a justice system for Earth Justice, the United Nations endorsed his Symbiocene framework when he recognized that "current approaches from the Anthropocene epoch need to be expanded." What states:

Concepts like the symbiocene, an era in which human agency, culture, and enterprise would foster greater community interdependence and promote the health of all ecosystems, hold more promise and are solution-oriented.”[33]

However, we can perhaps wonder if the Symbiocene is too rosy a picture. However, Albrecht does not shy away from disturbing and possibly violent periods of transition. These realities are unfolding, as confirmed by British Professor Jem Bendell's (2018) paper on confirmed non-linear climate collapse and the management of the resulting societal collapse. Bendell's article, which has been downloaded more than 300,000 times in the past few months, calls for truth, emotional support, activism, and hard work for what he calls the deep adjustment needed to deal with the collapse.[34] Here, I claim that Albrecht's detailed preview of the emotional, moral, generational, cultural, spiritual, technological, and political aspects of the Symbiocene covers how we can deeply imagine and honorably adapt to an uncertain future. As the Children of Earth ascend, a clear and detailed framework of how to achieve a better and more beautiful world with other extraordinary life forms is certainly of immense value.

In 2014, the late Dr. Chris Seeley, artist, action researcher and sustainability educator, for attending the New Story global summit in Findhorn, Scotland. More than 300 participants – youth, indigenous people, scientists, environmental advocates, game developers, storytellers, educators, community workers and some eco-artists came together at Findhorn's Universal Hall for a week. The theme of the meeting was inspired by the seminal essay "The New History" by the great geotheologist Thomas Berry, in which he emphasized that the world desperately needs a new history that conveys an ecological worldview.[35] For me, the Symbiocene is the New History.

Goodbye Anthropocene – hello Symbiocene! (4)Cathy Fitzgerald, PhD, is a New Zealand ecosocial artist, researcher and educator now living in Ireland. She did her PhD in practiceThe Ecological Turn: Living Well with Forests to articulate an ecosocial artistic practice based on ecosophy and Guattari's action research,2018 at the National College of Art and Design of Ireland. she continues her careerhollywood forest storyAdventures with the new rescue dog Willow. She currently shares her learning of green skills with other creative professionals through online


Goodbye Anthropocene – hello Symbiocene! (5)

This article was supported by Dr Nessa Cronin, Irish Studies, National University of Galway, and Professors Karen Till and Gerry Kearns, University of Maynooth, Ireland, for the panel Art and Geography: Art, Activism and Social Engagement in the Capitalocene Era on the 7th EUGeo-Congres in Galway, Ireland, May 16, 2019. I would also like to thank Dr. Frances Fahy and Dr. I would like to thank Kathy Reilly (co-chair and organizer of the EUGEO conference) for the scholarship that allowed me to attend The conference.

This document was also presented at Trinity College Dublin.Art in the Anthropocene"International 3-Day Conference" on June 7, 2019, at the invitation of Professor Steve Wilmer and Dr. Ivone Scott.

This article was republished in the book"Plasticity for the Planet: On the ecological challenges for art and its institutions" (2019) of Editor Magdalena Ziolkowska, U-jazdowski Castle Contemporary Art Center, Warsaw🇧🇷 Milan: Editorial Mousse. This book accompanies the international exhibitionhuman free land(2019), curated by Jaroslaw Lubiak.

The slideshow of the previous keynote address I delivered at the 2019 EUGeo Congress is below:(Note that I'm happy to present this slideshow again.)

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  1. Dean Moore, „If Your House is on Fire“, 23 de septiembre de 2013,
  2. G. Thunberg, "Our house is on fire:": Greta Thunberg, 16, urges politicians to take climate action,The guard, January 25, 2019.
  4. D. JensenThe myth of human supremacy.Nova York: Seven Stories Press, (2016).
  5. Jensen y G. Draffan,Strange as war: the global assault on the forests.New York: Green Books, Totnes, UK. (2004)
  6. IPCC, global warming of 1.5 °C.An IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and associated global greenhouse gas emissions trajectories in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of change climate change, sustainable development and efforts to eliminate poverty.[v. Masson-Delmotte, P. Zhai, H. O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, P.R. Shukla , A. Pirani , W. Moufouma-Okia , C. Pean , R. Pidcock , S. Connors , J. B. R. Matthews , Y. Chen , X. Zhou , M. I. Gomis , E. Lonnoy , T. Maycock , M. Tignor , T. Waterfield (esp.)]. 2018.
  9. Steffen, Wendy Broadgate, Lisa Deutsch, Owen Gaffney, Cornelia Ludwig “The Trajectory of the Anthropocene: The Great Acceleration,”The flashback of the Anthropocene,Volume: 2 Edition: 1, 2015: 81-98.
  10. See: C Fitzgerald,The Anthropocene: 10,000 years of ecocide,
  11. D. Jensen, "Zeital des sociopathen". Primavera.Earth Island Institute, 2013,
  12. ibid.
  13. C Derber,Sociopathic Society: A Popular Sociology of the United States. Rock: Editora Paradigma, 2013.
  14. J. D. Forbes,Columbus and other cannibals: the Wetiko disease of exploitation, imperialism and terrorism.Seven Stories Press; 1978, Revised Edition, November 4, 2008. See also
  15. J. Moore, Hrsg.,Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, history and the crisis of capitalism.Oakland: PM Press, 2016.
  16. D. Harraway, "Antropoceno, Capitalocean, Plantagenocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin".Environmental Sciences, Bd. 6, 2015: 159-165.
  17. C. Fitzgerald,The story of the Hollywood forest: living well with a forest to explain the practice of ecosocial art, Free Audio-visual E-book for download, Apple iBook Store, 2018: 77,
  18. Glenn Albrecht, "Leaving the Anthropocene and entering the Symbiocene",
  19. Glenn Albrecht, "An Age of Solastalgia"
  20. glen alberto,Earth Feelings: New Words for a New World, Cornell University Press, 2019. Kindle edition.
  21. Cathy Fitzgerald, "Stem Trees - Earth Network for Resilience"árboles-la-tierra-redes-para-la-resiliencia/
  22. Susana Simard,How trees talk to each other,
  23. version 20
  24. ibid.
  26. Glenn Albrecht, "Solastalgia, Soliphilia, Eutierria and Art"
  27. C. Fitzgerald, "Continuous cover forests key in [Irish] Green Party's new forestry policy", 2013,
  28. C. Fitzgerald, [Irish] “Greens unanimously adopt motion to end ecocide; a new legal framework to prevent hydraulic fracturing and other forms of contamination”, 2013, “ also
  30. G, Alberto,Earth Feelings: New Words for a New World, Cornell University Press, 2019. Kindle edition.
  31. ibid.
  33. Ver 30.
  34. J, Bendell, Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy.IFLAS Opportunity Paper 2. 2018.
  35. T, Berry "The New Story",Teilhard Studies, 1978,Do not do. 1 (Winter). [A video clip of Thomas Berry discussing his 1978 Teilhard Studies monograph titled "The New History" at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia in 1984 Pascoe. Lou's video library was donated to the Thomas Berry Foundation in 2012 by Jane Blewett. The remastered video series was produced by Don Smith of Calgary, Alberta under the executive supervision of Mary Evelyn Tucker.


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