Exiting The Anthropocene and Entering The Symbiocene.

Mushroom IMG_3441

Exiting The Anthropocene

It has been proposed that humans are now living within a period of the Earth’s history appropriately named ‘The Anthropocene’ (Crutzen and Stoermer 2000). The name is derived from the observed human influence and indeed dominance of all climatic, biophysical and evolutionary processes occurring at a planetary scale. The issue is not simply climate change (as bad as that is) it is the whole Capitalist development paradigm that is at the dark heart of mal-development; that is, development that undermines and destroys the very foundations of all life on Earth.

Gone is the relative stability and predictability of the past 12,000 years as the established patterns and regularity of Holocene phenology begin to fall into chaos. While some cosmic constants remain such as the cycles of day and night, the moon’s influence on the tides, the date of the solstices and the length of time the Earth takes to go around the sun, many other patterns and rhythms of Earth phenology are undergoing major change. A rapidly heating climate puts things out of whack. Synchronicity and timing are all important and when, for example, the instinctual migration of mammals and birds tied to ‘locked in’ global rhythms and patterns fails to coincide (trophic mismatches) with the great warming-accelerated flourishing, flowering and fruiting of once reliable food supplies … death and extinction follow.

In the Anthropocene, the so-called ‘new normal’, or what I prefer to conceptualise as ‘the new abnormal’, life will be characterised by uncertainty, unpredictability, genuine chaos and relentless change. Earth distress, as manifest in global warming, changing climates, erratic weather, acidifying oceans, disease pandemics, species endangerment and extinction, bioaccumulation of toxins and the overwhelming physical impact of exponentially-expanding human development will have its correlates in human physical and mental distress. I have written about solastalgia or the lived experience of negative environmental change as one emergent form of mental distress (Albrecht 2012a, Albrecht 2012b).

We need to get rid of the foundations of the concept of the Anthropocene before it covers many more decades of history of Earth. If all of the above are the outcome of human dominance of the planet, then I do not wish to be identified with The Anthropocene. I want this period in history to become redundant as soon as possible since, the longer it prevails, the more likely we will suffer catastrophic failure as a species here on Earth. While this would be a tragedy of huge proportion for humans, we will take with us thousands, perhaps millions, of other species as well. Popular literature and film already portray such an apocalyptic turn in human-nature relationships

While we have already tried to build a new and viable society around concepts such as democracy, sustainability, sustainable development and resilience, all these terms have been corrupted by forces determined to incorporate and embed them into the Anthropocene where they become ‘business as usual’. ‘Sustainability’ is inadequate as a concept because it does not specify what is to be sustained and over what time frame it is to be sustained. ‘Sustainable development’, equally, fails to define what it is about development that is to be sustained … except perhaps, development itself (Albrecht 1994). Yet, global-scale development which is diametrically opposed to micro-life and planetary-scale forces puts us on the path to dislocation then extinction.

The concept of ‘resilience’ (Holling 2001, Walker and Salt 2006) has also been appropriated by forces determined to pull it into the gravitational influence of toxic industrial society on a globalised scale. Instead of helping us rebound into configurations of successful models of living after disturbance, we are now seeing complex adaptive systems and ‘resilience’ being used to justify the ongoing existence of processes and activities that are driving humans to disease and extinction. Coal, oil and gas fracking industries now use their public relations departments to spin the message that their industries are not only sustainable, but ‘healthy’ and resilient as well. The ongoing ‘resilience’ of technically non-sustainable and undesirable features of social systems are more correctly termed “negative resilience” (Gallopín, 2006) or “perverse resilience” (Holling 2001, Ráez-Luna, 2008). These forms of resilience occur where pathological social relationships that are oppressive and exploitative of humans and ecosystems (life) are rendered resistant to change by economic and political subsidies (donations and corruption), political support, bullying, actual violence, terrorism and vested interests.

Dominance by powerful vested interests has also become characteristic of what is called democracy. Rule by the people (demos) has become corrupted by rule (kratos) by the powerful (oligarchy or plutocracy). It’s worse than that; Capitalism is now run by what can be technically called corruption. Corporations and oligarchs (authoritarians) use their power and influence to buy policy and manipulate or minimise regulation. It is this form of ‘government’ that is blatant in most parts of the world but more powerful if not more subtle in the so-called advanced countries of the Western World.

We could call this form of political-economy Corruptalism (Cohen 1993) or what I prefer to call ‘Corrumpalism’ (from the Latin corrumpere ‘to destroy’). I define Corrumpalism as the ability to corrupt and destroy the integrity of a social system and its biophysical foundation by perverting all forms of development via the use of mis-information, falsehoods, money and/or violence to achieve self-interested outcomes that are the opposite of cultural and ecological interests. We are seeing Corrumpalism played out in a public way with the recent VW scandal, the FIFA scandal, Olympics scandal, the Exxon climate change scandal, the ISIS oil scandal and many more worldwide from intensely local to global scales. There can be no ‘Good Anthropocene’ given the corruption that has already taken place.

In order to counter all these negative trends within The Anthropocene we clearly need, within popular politics and culture, visions and memes of a different future. To get the detail into these visions, we will need more novel conceptual development, since the foundation on which we are building right now is seriously flawed and conducive of nothing but great waves of ennui, grief, dread, solastalgia, mourning and melancholia. We must rapidly exit The Anthropocene with its non-sustainability, perverse resilience, authoritarianism and its corrumpalism. The new foundation, built around a new meme, will need to be an act of positive creation.

Entering The Symbiocene

I argue that the next era in human history should be The Symbiocene (from the Greek sumbiosis, or companionship). I created this concept in 2011 as an almost instinctive reaction again the very idea of the Anthropocene (Albrecht 2011). The scientific meaning of the word ‘symbiosis’ implies living together for mutual benefit and I wish to use this profoundly important concept as the basis for what I hope will be the next period of Earth history. As a core aspect of ecological and evolutionary thinking, symbiosis and its associated symbiogenesis, affirms the interconnectedness of life and all living things (Scofield and Margulis 2012).

As many thinkers have pointed out, such interconnection and interaction puts humans back into the community of life and resists the Hobbesian and Spencerian views of nature as essentially hostile and a competitive war of all against all. No doubt, conflict between organisms exists, but an overall balance of interests (eco-homeostasis) is in the total interest of all life. In addition, ecology itself is a radical concept in that it requires of us all to live within the limits of nature and to live with all the other life forms that share this home we call the Earth. In this contemporary historic moment of our appreciation of the threat of global warming, one the earliest thinkers to warn us of its dangers (in 1962), Murray Bookchin, summarised cogently what an ecological understanding of the world means and what it does to our understanding of our place within it:

The critical edge of ecology, a unique feature of the science in a period of general scientific docility, derives from its subject matter – from its very domain. The issues with which ecology deals are imperishable in the sense that they cannot be ignored without bringing into question the survival of man and the survival of the planet itself. The critical edge of ecology is due not so much to the power of human reason – a power which science hallowed during its most revolutionary periods – but to a still higher power, the sovereignty of nature … ecology clearly shows the totality of the natural world – nature viewed in all its aspects, cycles and interrelationships – cancels out human pretensions to mastery over the planet (Bookchin 1971:59)

As a scientific term, symbiosis has been used to give substance to the nature of the interactions between different organisms living in close physical association. For example, the relatively recent discovery of immense mutually beneficial associations of macrofungi with flowering plants in complex positive metabolic symbiotic relationship to each other in ecosystems all over the world has already overturned the dominance of the ‘Darwinian’ view of life as solely founded on competitive struggle between species (Scofield and Margulis 2012, Albrecht 2001).

We are now closer to understanding how ecosystem parameters can be guided by key players in the system to maximise benefits for the life-chances of whole species. In essence, there is a form of ‘natural justice’ that prevails. We now know that, for example, health in all forest ecosystems is regulated by what are called “mother trees” that control fungal networks that in turn interconnect trees of varying ages. The control system works to regulate nutrient flows to trees, such as to the very young, that need them most (Simard et al 2015). It also works to transfer information and energy from dying species to those that might continue to thrive, thus maintaining ‘the forest’ (see Frazer 2015). These crucially important insights have yet to be incorporated into ecological thinking applied to politics and human societies.

Given that forest ecosystems are foundational for most life on Earth, including humans, the so-called ‘wood-wide-web’ is now a prime example of natural justice and the attempt to maintain ‘balance’ or total homeostasis in nature where the early insights of Kropotkin in Mutual Aid (1902) find contemporary scientific validation. Cooperation and mutual aid can now be reinstated as an evolutionary foundation of life and crucial for all aspects of human enterprise. Kropotkin wrote:

In the practice of mutual aid, which can be traced to the earliest beginnings of evolution, we thus find the positive and undoubted origin of our ethical conceptions; and we can affirm that in the ethical progress of man, mutual support – not mutual struggle – has had the leading part (Kropotkin 1987:234).

Imagining The Symbiocene

Let us now try to imagine The Symbiocene and the politics of how it might function. The new era will be characterised by human intelligence that replicates the symbiotic and mutually reinforcing life-reproducing forms and processes found in living systems. Given that we have evolved as a species within the pre-existing evolutionary matrix, such intelligence lies within us as latent potential. The elements include, full recyclability of all inputs and outputs, the elimination of toxic waste in all aspects of human enterprise, safe and socially-just renewable energy and full and harmonious integration of human industry and technology with physical and living systems at all scales.

In The Symbiocene, human action, culture and enterprise will be exemplified by those cumulative types of relationships and attributes nurtured by humans that enhance mutual interdependence and mutual benefit for all living beings (desirable), all species (essential) and the health of all ecosystems (mandatory). Human development will consist of creative actions that use the very best of biomimicry together with other eco-industrial, eco-technological, eco-agricultural and eco-cultural innovation. Human psychology will be fully nurtured within The Symbiocene (Albrecht 2014).

However, beyond biomimicry we must also have symbiomimicry. Many simply think it is enough to copy the shapes and form of life, but they make no connection to life’s processes. We don’t just copy the form of life, we replicate in all types of human creativity, the processes of life that make the mutually beneficial associations between different life forms strong and healthy. Examples such as the ‘wood-wide-web’ suggest to me that organising resources and processes so that the young, weak and vulnerable get their fair share in order that the totality has the greatest chance of survival and flourishing is fundamental to life. Symbiomimicry in human enterprise will both generate and distribute resources such that, in nurturing all humans, we nurture the life support system on which we all depend.

The geological proof of the presence of The Symbiocene will be the observed gradual disappearance of The Anthropocene as the Earth is cleansed of its toxic legacy and the background rate of global extinction and evolution resumes. In what I hope will be a relatively short period of time (decades? hundreds of years?) there will be a point in human evolution when every element of human culture, habitat and technology will be able to be fully re-integrated back into life and its cycles and processes. From that point onward, within the youngest geological strata, there will hardly be a distinctively human presence left on this Earth. All that will be left to fossilise will be the bones and teeth of people who lived within The Symbiocene.


As we build The Symbiocene we shall also build a new political system I call Sumbiocracy (from the Greek sumbiosis, from sumbioun, to live together, from sumbios, living together). I define Sumbiocracy as rule determined by the type and totality of mutually beneficial or benign relationships in a given socio-biological system at all scales (mutualism).

The basic idea here is that if the processes that nurture ecosystems and biomes are identified, protected and conserved, species within such healthy ecosystems will also flourish. We therefore do not need to further democratise a failing ‘biased’ democracy with, say, a Deep Ecology ‘council of all beings’ approach where species’ interests are ‘represented’ in decision-making structures by well-meaning humans. Rather, we need to elect people to govern who understand and affirm life-supporting organic form, process and relationships such that they can deliberate on creative proposals from humans.

If, for example, an aspect of human development is known to have a long-term toxic impact on a basic life process such as metabolism, then it simply cannot be permitted to take place or if it is already being undertaken, it must be urgently phased out of existence (e.g., lead in petrol, asbestos in building supplies, phalates in plastic).

In contrast to democracy which is by definition, anthropocentric and capable only of partial answers to human-biased questions, Sumbiocracy requires those who govern (Sumbiocrats) to have a thorough understanding of total ecosystems and the symbiotic interrelationships that enable them to function. In order to ‘live together’ humans must exercise their intelligence and power to achieve overall harmony in a community of interests. Within a Sumbiocracy, Earth Rulers must ponder what kind of mutualistic development is permissible to enable living together via the answers to the following questions:

  • Is there full recyclability of all inputs and outputs?
  • Are we using safe and socially just forms of renewable energy?
  • Do we have full and harmonious integration with biogeochemical systems at all scales?
  • Have we achieved the elimination of toxic waste in all aspects of this enterprise?
  • Are all species, great and small, having their interests taken into account?
  • Do we have a harmony or balance of interests?

Governance by scientifically and traditionally informed humans (including citizen science) at all places and all scales determines the interconnections between elements of complex systems before they commit to action that impacts system health. We must remember that place is critical to effective sumbiocracy as only those with close and intimate ties to particular places are in a position to know their place and make decisions about its health and vitality.

Sumbiocracy is a form of government where humans govern for all the reciprocal relationships of the Earth at all scales from local to global. Organic form (all biodiversity including humans) and organic process (Earth systems) are present in this new form of government. Sumbiocracy is rule for the Earth – by the Earth, so that we might all live together.

We now have a very sophisticated understanding of how the natural world works and, as it was here and functioning before humans evolved as Homo sapiens sapiens, it is we that must fit in with its process and functioning. To understand the conditions of life but to deliberately destroy them by toxic overload, changing the climate for the worse, making formerly healthy ecosystems unfit for life, destroying ecosystems and extirpating species (the 6th Great Extinction), we demonstrate that we are not only Homo non-sapiens, but also some kind of pathological plague on all species on this Earth. We are better than that.


During a relatively short period of human history we have seen the emergence of a growth-addicted industrial-technological society that has achieved its success at the expense of the vitality of the Earth. At the same time as this system has produced global scale pollution, negative climate change, mass extinction and human wealth, it has impoverished and corrupted many of the efforts that have been made to emerge into some sort of harmony or equilibrium with the Earth. The usurpation by a powerful elite, and their instruments such as mass media, of concepts like democracy, sustainability, sustainable development and resilience have all taken place within my lifetime (62 years).

Rather than rehabilitate these now well-abused concepts, I believe it is time to create some new ones; concepts that are urgently needed and very hard, if not impossible to corrupt. The Symbiocene, sumbiocracy and symbiomimicry are all offered in this spirit. Indeed, I can offer one more neologism that might help. E.O. Wilson (1984), and before him, Erich Fromm (1965), gave us the concept of ‘biophilia’ as something to hope for in human nature. Our instinctual love of life and life-like forms would/could prevail over necrophilia and possible ecocide. However, although ‘bio’ means life, it is often seen in the context of a reductionist science that pulls things apart and isolates particularities. I now offer ‘sumbiophilia’ (the love of living together) as an addition to biophilia. Since we evolved within the pre-existing ecological matrix where humans as an intensely social species lived in relative harmony with all other life forms, sumbiophilia must also be deeply ingrained within us. If I am correct, then exiting The Anthropocene and entering The Symbiocene will be a deeply satisfying experience for most humans. As the politics of Sumbiocracy play out and we live with symbiomimicry in all our technologies and habitats, the Earth will breathe a huge sigh of relief.



Albrecht, Glenn A. (1994). “Ethics, Anarchy and Sustainable Development.” Anarchist Studies, Vol. 2, Autumn, No. 2: 95-118.

Albrecht, Glenn A. (2001). “Applied Ethics in Human and Ecosystem Health: The Potential of Ethics and an Ethic of Potentiality.” Ecosystem Health. Vol.7 No. 4, 243-252.

Albrecht, Glenn A. (2011) Symbiocene. See: http://healthearth.blogspot.com.au/2011/05/symbiocene.html

Albrecht, Glenn A. (2012a). “The age of solastalgia”: https://theconversation.com/the-age-of-solastalgia-8337

Albrecht, Glenn A. (2012b) Psychoterratic Conditions in a Scientific and Technological World. In Kahn, P.H. and Hasbach, P.H. (eds) Ecopsychology: Science, Totems and the Technological Species. MIT Press, Cambridge Massachusetts.

Albrecht, Glenn A. (2014) Ecopsychology in ‘The Symbiocene’ Ecopsychology Vol. 6, No.1, pp. 58-59. DOI:   10.1089/eco.2013.0091.

Bookchin, M. (1971). Post-Scarcity Anarchism, Palo Alto, Ramparts Press.

Cohen, S.F. (October 10, 1993). Renaissance or Ruin? Yeltin’s Desperation Dismantles Democracy, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/1993/10/10/renaissance-or-ruin-yeltsins-desperation-dismantles-democracy/0a743f08-e74a-4334-9737-d917f0a3e583/

Crutzen, P.J., Stoermer, E.F., (2000). The ‘anthropocene’. International Geosphere-Biosphere Program Newsletter. 41, 17–18.

Frazer, J. (2015) Dying Trees Can Send Food to Neighbors of Different Species http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/artful-amoeba/dying-trees-can-send-food-to-neighbors-of-different-species/

Fromm, E. (1965). The Heart of Man: Its Genius for Good and Evil. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Gallopin, C. (2006). “Linkages between vulnerability, resilience and adaptive capacity.” Global Environmental Change. 16, 293−303.

Holling, C.S. (2001). “Understanding the Complexity of Economic, Ecological, and Social Systems.” Ecosystems (2001) 4:390-405.

Kropotkin, P. (1987) [1902]. Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, London, Freedom Press.

Ráez-Luna, E. (2008). “Third World Inequity, Critical Political Economy, and the Ecosystem Approach.” In The Ecosystem Approach –Complexity, Uncertainty, and Managing for Sustainability, edited by David Waltner-Toews, J.J. Kay, and N. Lister, New York: Columbia University Press.

Scofield, B, and Margulis, L. (2012) Psychological Discontent: Self and Science on Our Symbiotic Planet. In Kahn, P.H. and Hasbach, P.H. (eds) Ecopsychology: Science, Totems and the Technological Species. MIT Press, Cambridge Massachusetts.

Simard, S.W., Asay, A.K., Beiler, K.J., Bingham, M.A., Deslippe, J.R., He, X., Philip, L.J., Song, Y., Teste, F.P. (2015). “Resource transfer between plants through ectomycorrhizal networks”. In: Mycorrhizal Networks. Edited by T. R. Horton. Springer. See: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272567309_Resource_transfer_between_plants_through_ectomycorrhizal_fungal_networks

Walker, B.H. and D. Salt. (2006). Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World. Washington, D.C., USA: Island Press.

Wilson, E.O. (1984). Biophilia. Cambridge

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Sumbiography (from the Greek, sumbios living together)


I define sumbiography as the sum total of the seminal events and influences on a person’s life that constitute their outlook and values on the importance of life, nature, the environment and life-support systems. A sumbiocentric person is likely to have a sumbiography rich with experiences of  immersion in nature. A strongly anthropocentric person is likely to have suffered Nature Deficit Disorder (Richard Louv) as a child-young adult and hence would have little or no sumbiography within their biography.

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Symbiocene Principles

In what I hope will be a relatively short period of time (perhaps decades), there will be a point in human social development where almost every element of human culture, habitat and technology will be seamlessly re-integrated back into life cycles and processes. In order to get to that preferred state of living, I suggest that the key organizing principles of a Symbiocene society include:

  • full and benign recyclability and biodegradability of all inputs and outputs;
  • safe and socially just forms of clean, renewable energy;
  • full and harmonious integration of human systems with biogeochemical systems at all scales;
  • using the renewable resources of place and bioregion;
  • the elimination of toxic waste in all aspects of production, consumption and enterprise;
  • all species, great and small, having their life-interests and life-sharing understood and respected;
  • evidence of a harmony or balance of interests where conflict is recognized as a sub-set of grand-scale cooperation;
  • protection of symbiotic bonds between and within species at all scales; and
  • re-establishment of symbiotic bonds where they have been severed in the Anthropocene.

As all of these principles are applied by Generation Symbiocene, in the goodness of Symbiocene time, on the very youngest soil strata on Earth, a new, thin film of vitally organic microbiome substances will cover everything. The ‘sumbiofilm’ will mark the proper geological commencement of the Symbiocene. From that point onwards, as we rapidly build the Symbiocene, that ‘organic’ layer will become thicker and richer as it covers the multitude of sins left by the Anthropocene.

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Generation Symbiocene

The generations produced by the Boomers are labelled as vague, directionless tribes in the Anthropocene, but now is their time in history to unite and fight for a cause that is without peer … themselves and their own future. The artistic tribes have already moved in this direction and I am buoyed the emergence of Symbiocene art in the last few years. The idea of the Symbiocene, and the need for Generation Symbiocene to become tribal champions for positive Earth emotions, are their guideposts. Symbiocene principles form a coherent and unifying ideology. The Symbiocene and its positive Earth emotions give generously of directionality in life. They both say go in the direction of increasing symbiotic unity and diversity.

The application of Symbiocene principles will also ensure that a sumbioregional focus returns to human industry and agriculture. They will respect the nuances of place in situ, the world over. In essence, I am hopeful that a new form of human community can arise out of the current identity crisis of all the post-Boomer Gens and other people already emplaced at small scale all over the world. They will use their own inner distress, the scientific critique of homogeneous gigantism and its toxic legacy, and climate chaos, plus sumbiophilia and tribalism, to create the Symbiocene. The inertia of others will be unblocked by positive Earth emotions based on the understanding of the symbiotic revolution in science and the overwhelming appeal to be a part of a mentally and physically strong Generation Symbiocene.

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Communication in the Symbiocene

Communication in the Symbiocene

The many positive attributes of Generation Symbiocene, centred on high levels of education and technological sophistication, enable them to communicate with each and every Symbiocene inspired movement worldwide. Similar communications systems to the ones now being used in Western contexts can also be transferred to developing contexts. This can be done without the need for corporate-owned monopoly technology and media (monopoly internetism and oligopoly multimedia), as already decentralised, cheaper and simpler technologies enable ‘internets’ to be created without huge scale or expense all over the world. Such networked, but community-based and owned communications will be necessary to avoid the monopoly/oligopoly internet giants that now control access to goods (Amazon), communications (Facebook and Twitter) and operating systems (Google, Apple, Microsoft).

The internet will be returned to one of its original purposes, that being, to allow free and instant communication between common interest groups. A global pathway will be necessary, but it will have to be protected from commercial and surveillance interests by gateways that protect the Symbiocene principles. Commerce can also have its own internets, but they will be for business only. The old separation of Church and State will be replaced by the separation of Commerce and Communication. Generation Symbiocene will be good at making this transition, as they already know about the public domain software needed to make viable the local and regional scale.

If we want to forge and own our personal and regional identities, we will need to decouple from these artificial intelligence (artificial stupidity (A.S.), algorithm-based drivers of an interconnected, but authoritarian, homogeneous, depersonalised and insecure social media. At present, the monopolies’ interests are not our interests, unless we happen to be shareholders in one of these companies. Increased shareholder value is all the algorithms deliver; they are not designed to support personal identity, the symbioment or the common good. The recent revelation that Bitcoin transactions could dominate internet, then all, global energy usage within a few short years, drives the symbioment point home.

Identity or personal insecurity is also linked to these emergent monopolies and oligopolies, and the Dark Web seems to get more and more access to mass data banks containing our personal information. Such information can be used for consolidating and generating political power in what we once called ‘democracies’. Criminal hacking and the lack of data security mean that our on-line identities are constantly under surveillance and at risk of being used in ways that are against our interests.

The internet giants, though, are as vulnerable to disruption as the big fossil fuel-based centralized power industries of last century. Given the failure of all shades of government in the world to break-up WWW-based oligopolies and monopolies in the so-called ‘free-market’, it will not be long before tech savvy Generation Symbiocene activists hack into the gigantism and start breaking it up. Once this happens, we are well on the way to the Symbiocene.

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Androgynous Symbiotic Intelligence in The Symbiocene


It will not be easy to exit our current era, the Anthropocene, and enter the next era, the Symbiocene. The stakes are so high that to actively engage in symbiotic and peaceful co-existence with other humans and non-human beings has become a major challenge to alpha male, misogynist, violent and aggressive entrenched interests. The sumbios in the Symbiocene is founded on ‘living together’; and negotiation, reason and persuasion are its ethical foundations.

We already live in a technological world largely driven by a form of intelligence that is neither characteristically male nor female. There are now thousands of jobs in industry where intelligence and dexterity are the required attributes, not brute strength. In the growth sector of service jobs, intelligence and emotional clarity are the essential skills. Heavy work in industry is now fully mechanised.

The misogyny of men within advanced industrial countries is now crumbling under a relentless ethical and intellectual assault from women and men who value intelligence and justice above all else. The intellectual equality of women with men is already the basis for universal humanity. We are Homo sapiens after all.

In the future, engaging with all life in symbiotic ways to make a living on this Earth will require Androgynous Symbiotic Intelligence (ASI). Such ASI now has the ability to see the future, not with perfect clarity, but with enough clarity to know that, without a rapid global transition to the Symbiocene, the future will be bleak, if not catastrophic.

This is new in human history, as we have never before had that kind of predictive capacity. It is not Nostradamus giving us this dire warning. It is being delivered by some of the best minds on the planet. However, for the first time, the known catastrophe can be averted and a new positive future created, perhaps without violence. The big question is, are we smart enough to use ASI to enter the Symbiocene?

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Sea Level Rise in Newcastle NSW, Australia.

Teenagers in the recent murderous shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school in Florida USA have quite rightly publicly resisted the ongoing threat of murder and mayhem at the hand of insane shooters with high powered automatic weapons. Mass murder is a massive existential threat that cannot and ought not be ignored. The students properly want protection from any repetition of such carnage.

Yet, worldwide, there is another existential threat that is even more dangerous than mass murder at the hands of insane shooters with machine guns. I refer to climate change and its attendant sea level rise and extremes in weather. An immediate local threat generates an immediate response, while an insidious global threat generates barely a raised voice in protest. The students and their parents are not ‘up in arms’ about this massive threat to their own futures.

Ship 019.jpg

Climate science has been warning us about these chronic, negative environmental changes for decades now. I have felt intense solastalgia about them. However, the scientists have been wrong on almost every front. Wrong in the sense that every prediction they have made has been shown to be mistaken. Climate reality, as it has unfolded, has been worse than their predictions. The science has been too conservative.

Global temperatures are rising more rapidly than predicted and 17 of the 18 warmest years in the 136-year global record have occurred since 2001. A person born after February 1985 has yet to experience a month that was at or below the long-term average global temperature of the late 1900s until the mid-2000s. That is, 32 years of consecutive annual global temperatures above the long-term average and we are already on track for 33. Globally, there have been many more hot records than cold records in the first 17 years of this century. If there was no warming trend happening, there would be a 50-50 chance of a hot or cold temperature record. Such records, all things being equal,  would also be increasingly improbable. Yet, in Australia, for example, there have been 12 times as many hot records as cold ones between 2000 and 2016.

Sea level rise is faster than was predicted, with increasing heat both causing expansion of world oceans and the melting of land-based ice. The latest science has increased the projected extreme sea level rise to 2 metres by 2100. However, as the global temperature increases, the rate at which land-based ice melts is also likely to increase. The recent (February 2018) record warming in the Arctic, and concerns about the speed at which the Greenland ice mass will melt, have raised the spectre of a 6-metre sea level rise if Greenland’s ice melts into the sea. The question now is; how soon will that melt occur and with Antarctica melting as well, what will be the total sea level rise?

While there are sceptics and denialists who will rant and rave about what I am saying from their home pulpits, I must point out to them that they, (mostly men over 50), will be long dead by 2100. This message is mainly for those born since the year 2000 as they will custodians of the Earth in 2100.

In order to focus our attention on the issue of the impacts of climate change and sea level rise here are the Coastal Risk Australia scenarios for Newcastle NSW, my closest seaside city,  for the 2-metre and 6-metre projections for sea level rise. It is now possible to do these projections for almost any coastal region in the world. The first image shows the Newcastle-Sydney-Wollongong coast of the State of NSW, Australia.

Fig 1. Newcastle-Sydney-Wollongong coast of the State of NSW, Australia.

Sea level with Circle

It is worth remembering that sea level rise has happened before globally and on this coast of Australia. From a recent discussion of historical sea level rise:

Then between 18,000 and 8,000 years ago, global climate warmed, leading to rapid melting of the ice sheets, and seeing sea levels in the Australian region rising from 125m below to 2m above modern sea levels.

Tasmania was cut off with the flooding of Bass Strait around 11,000 years ago. New Guinea was separated from Australia with the flooding of Torres Strait and creation of the Gulf of Carpentaria around 8,000 years ago.

We found that 2.12 million square km, or 20-29% of the landmass – a size comparable to the state of Queensland – was lost during this inundation. The location of coastlines changed on average by 139km inland. In some areas the change was more than 300km.

Much of this inundation occurred over a 4,000-year period (between 14,600 and 10,600 years ago) initiated by what is called Meltwater Pulse 1A, a period of substantial ice sheet collapse releasing millions of cubic litres of water back into the oceans.

During this period, sea levels rose by 58m, equivalent to 14.5mm per year. On the ground, this would have seen movement of the sea’s edge at a pace of about 20-24m per year.

Fig 2. Newcastle Australia NSW, Sea Level Rise of Two Metres by 2100

Newcastle Wharf Road at 2 metres 2

On this projection you can see that the light Blue colour represents the extent of sea inundation at a 2-metre sea level rise. On closer inspection (below) you can see that much of Honeysuckle Drive (top left) is submerged and many buildings facing the Harbour will be under water. The foreshore walkway adjacent to the Hunter River and the Port goes under as does a very large area of the portside Honeysuckle precinct. Areas where new buildings are proposed, such as on current public parking on the foreshore will be inundated.

Fig 3. Newcastle NSW Australia  Sea Level Rise of Two Metres by 2100 (Close Up).

Newcastle Close up 2 metre rise 2

Fig 3. does not indicate storm surge levels on top of the 2 metre sea level rise. In the flooding that occurred in 2007 in what has become known as the Pasha Bulker storm (Opening image is of the Pasher Bulker on Nobbys Beach, Newcastle), a surge of just under two metres entered the city of Newcastle and inundated 10,000 properties. Assuming the two metres of sea level rise, a similar storm surge in 2100 would cause 3-4 metres of inundation.

Fig 4. Newcastle Sea Level Inundation at 3-4 Metres

Newcastle 4 metre storm surge

While ‘buyer beware of sea level rise’ might not operate in the current market with respect to real estate values, nevertheless, people would like their assets to be passed on to future generations. There is also the question of living zones and planning for the future which is the responsibility of Local and State Government. The sea level rise to two metres above current levels is a known, science-based risk to the City of Newcastle within the next 100 years.  Inaction, failure to plan and adapt will be colossal fiscal and human risk failures by the current generation towards the future. Our children and teenagers should be revolting right now. Their coastal parents are about to blow their inheritance in all respects.

To make matters worse, Newcastle planning authorities are currently using data from 2007 to do the assessment of sea level rise in Newcastle West.

They use the following sea level estimates to predict sea harbour increase:

In recognition of the potential for increases in sea level to increase the flood risk across Newcastle West, additional 1% AEP simulations were completed with the following sea / harbour level increases (Department of Environment and Climate Change, 2007).
0.4 metres (corresponding to the projected 2050 sea level increase); and, 0.9 metres (corresponding to the projected 2100 sea level increase). (NCC March 2017).

Clearly, the most recent data from climate science has made the planning for Newcastle West based on 2007 data, completely redundant. While the 3-4 storm surge scenario is bad enough, it could get worse. Some climate scientists are now modelling a flash melting of Greenland corresponding to an additional sea level rise of up to 3 metres. That, plus a storm surge, could see impacts of up to six metres by 2100. Such a scenario makes the current location of the City of Newcastle and its Port impossible for future security. Newcastle will have to be moved inland and it will have to be about 50 kilometres inland from where it is today.

Inland City Location

It is evident to many climate scientists that we have a ‘built-in’ 2 metre sea level rise by 2100 due to climate change. Global failure to stop even two metres of sea level rise suggests to me that we must also plan for a global Greenhouse temperature rise of 4 degrees Celsius or higher. Under these conditions, preventing further land-based ice meltdown will be impossible. Given that there is up to 80 metres of global sea level rise if all the world’s land ice melted, there will need to be planning for a new inland city above the 80-metre mark from sea level. Cessnock, in the Hunter Valley, qualifies as it sits at about 100 metres above current sea level and the land goes even higher as one heads further inland (West).  In the Hunter Valley we should be thinking about the inland city of Cessnock as the Capital of the Hunter region.  It will link with other inland cities as the coast becomes unviable.

Fig 5. Newcastle and the Hunter Region with a Five to Six Metre Sea Level Rise by 2100.

6 Metres Region 2

I have reached the conclusion in 2018, one day before my 65th birthday, that the 2-metre sea level rise for this Earth will happen by the year 2100. I am repulsed by this conclusion, as I know what havoc it will create for huge numbers of people world-wide. I have made it personal by focussing on my closest city, the birth place of my children. Their birth place will disappear at some point in the future, consumed by an ocean of water rising due to humanity’s own negligence in caring for this unique planet that houses life.

We still have time to stop the momentum pushing us towards an 80 metre sea level rise and a world so hot that it is unimaginable. Like the teenagers in Florida, we must awake from a torpor that has prevented us from seeing the danger to our own future. How many more years of living in a heating world will it take? Frogs are smart enough to jump out of slowly heating water. Are we?

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Regent Hipster


A positive feeling of oneness with the earth and its life forces where the boundaries between self and the rest of nature are obliterated and a deep sense of peace and connectedness pervades consciousness. (eu =good, tierra = earth, ia = suffix for member of a group of {positive psychoterratic} conditions). [Albrecht 2010] (Pronounced: You tee air ia)

In contrast, to solastalgia, tierratrauma, ecoanxiety, ecoparalysis and global dread, when the human-nature relationship is spontaneous and mutually enriching (symbiotic) we experience a state of ‘eutierria’. As indicated above, I define eutierria as a positive feeling of oneness with the earth, its beings and life forces.

Eutierria now exists as a secular alternative to what has previously been described within religious and spiritual writings as “that oceanic feeling”. This earthly feeling is one where the boundaries between self and the rest of nature are obliterated and a deep sense of peace and connectedness pervades consciousness.

Alexander von Humboldt described this experience thus:

Nature can be so soothing to the tormented mind, a blue sky, the glittering surface of lake water, the green foliage of trees may be your solace. In such company it is even possible to forget the reality of one’s personal existence. It lends wings to our feelings and thoughts. (von Humboldt 1829: Letter to brother, in Von Humboldt 1995:xliii)

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