Physical Geography in the Anthropocene (Editorial by Erle Ellis in Progress in Physical Geography)

In a recent editorial in Progress in Physical Geography, Erle Ellis asks the question

Should physical geographers be doing more to embrace the Anthropocene? As the term has come to embody the global-scale coupling of human and environmental change, it seems awkward that a discipline with such deep paradigmatic connections with this is not clearly associated with it. Why is geography not waving its flag at the head of the Anthropocene movement?

Ellis outlines some of the critiques of the Anthropocene concept–including the criticism that it is an “academic fad”–and asks what role, if any, geographers should play in engaging with the topic. His answer is that it is essential for geographers to be at the forefront of Anthropocene research and debate:

Geographers, with such a deep historic and processual understanding of the complex realities of human–environmental change, are ideally placed to lead in shaping the future of Anthropocene scholarship. Given that the Anthropocene is attracting interest to some of the most important core areas of geographic expertise, areas where geography can make major impacts across the academy and beyond, the Anthropocene is just too important to leave to others.

Readers can link to the full open access essay at

Ellis, Erle C. “Physical Geography in the Anthropocene.” Progress in Physical Geography 41, no. 5 (2017): 525–32.