Geographies of Global Change



Clive Hamilton (2017), professor of Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University, argues that although “the Anthropocene shadow falls over all of us… most citizens ignore or downplay the warnings.” According to Hamilton, a key aspect of this ‘great climate silence’ is that fact that,

grasping the scale of what is happening requires … making the cognitive leap to ‘earth system thinking’ – that is, conceiving of the Earth as a single, complex, dynamic system. It is one thing to accept that human influence has spread across the landscape, the oceans and the atmosphere, but quite another to make the jump to understanding that human activities are disrupting the functioning of the Earth as a complex, dynamic, ever-evolving totality comprised of myriad interlocking processes. (yes, I know a super long quote, but an important one!)

In your own words and drawing from course materials (lectures and readings) make a convincing case for the cognitive leap. In other words, explain the central threads/connections between the forces of the Anthropocene (15 pts). In your answer, offer some discussion of what you believe are the most challenging threads/connections to untangle (make sure you explain why they are challenging) and how we might work to untangle them (10pts).

****Note: In your answer, use specific examples, figures and concepts from the course lectures and resources (including the Hamilton article) to illustrate your claim. Your answer should be in the form of a well-crafted essay of 900-1200 words that includes an introduction (stating your claim), several paragraphs (containing reasons and evidence in support of your claim), and a conclusion. Where relevant, include charts or figures you cite. It should be in your own words, though you may include short quotes from these sources and/or lecture materials.

References: Hamilton, C. 2017. The great climate silence: we are on the edge of the abyss but we ignore it. The Guardian, available online:




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