Living With the Anthropocene (ed by Cameron Muir, Kirsten Wehner & Jenny Newell, NewSouth)
‘You’re not alone’ is one of the key threads in this collection of essays. That and ‘deep grief’ for what we know and don’t know is being lost, with many of the essays voicing the question: how will we adapt to living in the Anthropocene? Stomach-churning figures cast shadows of profound anguish across many of the unexpectedly intimate stories shared by the collection’s contributors, an impressive array of scientists, novelists, journalists and essayists. Among the figures, the 900 million lost butterflies (90% of the monarch population) in the US; the loss of 50% of the Great Barrier Reef to date; the worldwide 50% drop in honeybee stocks; and the studies suggesting that 90% of seabirds have ingested plastic. Mostly written prior to both the late 2019–20 bush fires and the Covid-19 pandemic, this anthology is perhaps even more relevant, timely and important now. Describing a book as ‘important’ is often a double-edged sword, making it sound a bit too worthy or like a job to read. While definitely worthy, reading Living With the Anthropocene is not in any way a chore: the writing in each essay is almost without exception heartfelt, thoughtful and compelling. Living With the Anthropocene is both acknowledgment that change is here as well as a quiet warning of the dangerous uncertainty to come.
Warren Bonett owned Embiggen Books and has a degree in outdoor education.