The Anthropocene, Capitalocene, and Struggle to Save Florida’s Springs

Authors: Christopher Meindl*, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg
Topics: Anthropocene, Environment, Water Resources and Hydrology
Keywords: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Florida, Springs, Politics, Water, Environment
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Hoover, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Florida has more than 1000 springs, and they have long been recognized among the state’s most impressive natural resources. Yet in recent years, Florida’s springs have displayed a number of hydrological and ecological problems. Talk of restoring Florida’s springs is fashionable these days, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection claims to be funding projects to help improve conditions in springs. What remains un-examined, however, are the broad political and economic forces that make such funding necessary in the first place—and the fact that funding is mostly for standard sewage treatment infrastructure.

Indeed, over the past decade or so, there has been an avalanche of academic literature proclaiming the end of the Holocene, alleging the birth of a new geological epoch called the Anthropocene—the Age of Humans. The Anthropocene concept can communicate to non-scientists the seriousness of anthropogenic landscape change. Yet some scholars, such as Jason W. Moore, contend that the term Capitalocene—the Age of Capital—comes closer to identifying the source of many social and environmental problems, including problems in springs. This paper uses facts from Florida to outline the reality of the Anthropocene, and advocates for wider use of the concept of Capitalocene as a way of explaining problems in the state’s springs. It also examines the role of government officials in both propping up the economy (the Capitalocene) while being compelled, after cutting taxes for several years, to devote more tax dollars to water quality improvements.

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