About the writing
Field Guide to the Anthropocene is a weekly essay/letter exploring the fundamental changes we’ve made and are making to the Earth. The Anthropocene (the New Age of Humans) is the name suggested for the new geological age initiated by these changes. A field guide is a tool for identifying something you’ve observed in the world. This field guide, then, is a resource for identifying the features of this new world we’ve inherited and are passing on.
Another way of saying this is that I’m interested both in seeing the world as it is and in understanding how we got here. How did simply being human come to mean upending all of life on Earth?
A field guide to the Anthropocene is both easy - the changes are everywhere if you know how to see them - and impossible, since the impacts are beyond counting.
I’ll tell stories, explore good ideas and better solutions, provide sad litanies, discuss population, talk about science, share some history, and review relevant books and other writings. It is tempting to respond daily to the reports of global anthropogenic environmental crises, particularly those climate-related, but that way lies madness (and journalism).
I’ll talk about the real world - the fabric of life around and within us - as a way to remind you to go outside and more fully experience the Anthropocene. The more you know what’s happening the more you’ll have a visceral sense of what will happen. And act accordingly.
You will note that my angle on the world is sometimes Antarctic. I worked in Antarctica for a decade, and because I became deeply connected to that landscape and our history within it, much of my initial thinking about the Anthropocene came from observing what our scientific/geopolitical colonies on the ice said about the culture that built them. Our brief history in Antarctica is in many ways a microcosm and analogue of the Anthropocene.
Think of this, then, as notes on the end of the familiar Earth by someone who has been to an end of the Earth.
About the writer
Before starting the Field Guide, I wrote primarily about Antarctica, most notably in my award-winning book, Hoosh, and in essays published in Orion, VQR, The Missouri Review, The Best American Travel Writing 2007, and elsewhere.
I was the 2014 Literary Fellow for Maine.
I was also the ghostwriter for The Little Things: A Memoir of Paralysis, Motivation, and Pursuing a Meaningful Life, a memoir by the remarkable Jack Trottier.
I’d like to express my gratitude to the MacDowell Colony, the Dora Maar House, Hewnoaks, and Norton Island for fellowships and artist residencies in support of early work on an unrealized project titled Unnatural Earth: Antarctica and the Anthropocene, which turned out to be not a book but the path that led to this writing.
My wife Heather Hardy and I live in Maine, that state of grace wedged between the U.S. and Canada. Until recently, we shared our life with an old, fluffy collie named Mollie.