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date: 24 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This essay examines the adoption of and the indifference to the term “Anthropocene” in diverse discourses addressing the urgency of climate change in the early twenty-first century. Through an analysis of keynote speeches, this essay argues that Anthropocene—a storytelling device invoking a pan-human species responsibility for the current climate crisis—is deployed widely within Euro-Australo-American academic environmental studies and environmental politics, but has not gained political or epistemic traction in environmental justice and climate justice organizations and social movements. Challenging the underlying universalism, anti-humanism, and cynicism woven into Anthropocene discourse, activists from environmental justice, climate justice, and indigenous organizations do not invoke Anthropocene’s rhetoric of humans as destroyers or masters of nature. Rather, these groups provide examples of “people powered” regenerative politics based on life-enhancing political strategies and proactive organizing in support of a just transition toward renewable energy, local economies, and socially and ecologically sustainable communities.

Keywords: Anthropocene, storytelling, keynote speech, anti-humanism, environmental justice, climate justice, regenerative politics, just transition, sustainable communities

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