This is an extraordinarily short article, of interest more for its historical significance than anything else. Crutzen is an atmospheric chemist; this article is often given as Year Zero of the term of art “anthropocene”—a term that, given my literary training, I am interested in probing the limits of.

Crutzen locates the beginning of the Anthropocene in 1784 as shown in analyses of air trapped in polar ice indicating rising carbon levels in the atmosphere: this is his definition. The rise of the industrial age in the late 19th century prompted a number of scientists to note humanity’s ability to intervene in the climate: there is a deep history to climate change, not just a contemporary concern.

Note that Crutzen ends with a call for large-scale geoengineering and climate management: this is a Bratton/Robinson approach to the Anthropocene as a speculative design problem.