The Norman Transcript


January 21, 2014

Scientist to open series on ethics in Anthropocene

NORMAN — British geoscientist Michael A. Ellis will present a complimentary public lecture about Anthropocene, the scientific proposal that the Earth has entered into a new geological epoch defined by the impacts on human activity, on Jan. 29 at the University of Oklahoma.

“The Anthropocene: A Brave New World?” is scheduled for 8 p.m. in the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Auditorium in Gaylord Hall, 395 W. Lindsey St. The talk is sponsored by the OU Department of Philosophy.

During the lecture, Ellis will explain the evidence that supports the proposal of the Anthropocene. He also will examine the mix of harmful and beneficial effects the Anthropocene could bring.

Ellis is science director for climate landscape change at the British Geological Survey, where he oversees the development of a broad range of research projects, including the origins and dynamics of Earth’s past climate changes, the dynamics of glacial retreat and environmental-impact modeling. He has been published in scientific journals and had his article on Anthropocene appear in the inaugural issue of “Earth’s Future.”

Ellis is the first speaker of the OU Presidential Dream Course’s public lecture series connected with the course “Environmental Ethics in the Anthropocene” taught by Zev Trachtenberg, associate professor of philosophy.

The goal of the class is to explore the ethical challenges presented by the central idea of the Anthropocene, namely that human activity now plays a decisive role in natural systems. The class will take an interdisciplinary approach, using Dream Course funding to bring an ecologist, an anthropologist and a geographer, as well as Ellis.

At 8 p.m. Feb. 19, ecologist Michelle Marvier of Santa Clara University will present “Protecting Nature in the Anthropocene: The Battle Between Pragmatism and Ideals Within the Conservation Movement.”

At 8 p.m. March 12, anthropologist William Balée of Tulane University will present “Historical Ecology and Concepts of Anthropocene.”

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