It is now pretty much official. An epoch in Earth’s history is over. The Holocene is behind us.
Contemplating where we are heading next is where things start to get interesting.
Many are calling the epoch ahead the “Anthropocene” or “Age of Humans.” It is clear that our species will be intimately involved in shaping the time ahead. But what will define this new age and in what sense will it be a “human” one?
The changes we are facing are much more significant than the familiar litany of human impacts such as climate change, species extinction, and toxic pollution. Earth is entering a period in which some of its most fundamental processes are being co-opted and redesigned by engineers. Synthetic biologists, climate engineers, and nanotechnologists are reaching deeply enough into the workings of nature to alter the very metabolism of the planet we inhabit. In so doing, they promise to create an entirely new, synthetic world.
The Synthetic Age: Outdesigning Evolution, Resurrecting Species, and Reengineering Our World provides an overview of some of the most significant of the transformations ahead. It shows how our species is on the way to constructing a synthetic version of nature, all the way from the atom to the atmosphere. It also posts a sober warning about how dangerous it would be to sleep through these world-changing events.
Should engineers, entrepreneurs, and the marketplace be allowed to replace the products of natural history with an entirely synthetic age? This book explains what is going on beneath our gaze. It explores the promises….but also reveals the perils.