The Anthropocene

101 Questions and Answers for Understanding the Human Impact on the Global Environment

B. L. Turner II

£35.00  |  $45.00
ISBN 9781788215114
£35.00  |  $45.00
ISBN 9781788215121
400 pages   |  246 x 189mm   |  27 October 2022


"Turner’s book is absolutely stunning in its breadth and rigour while simultaneously being immensely readable. As soon as I picked it up, I was drawn in to reading answer after answer – I didn’t want to put it down! This will be my go-to reference for teaching about human impact on the environment through time and across space." – Elena M. Bennett, Canada Research Chair in Sustainability Science, Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University

"An encyclopedic tour de force! Turner answers the major questions that educated people wonder about and gives accessible short and long answers to each one of them. Will be immensely useful to students, professionals and the public for years to come." – Emilio F. Moran, John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor, Center for Global Change and Earth Observations and Department of Geography, Michigan State University

"How to navigate through the Anthropocene in the pursuit of sustainability is humanity’s ultimate challenge. Smart choices call out for holistic understanding of the complex adaptive system emerging from the interactions between nature and society. Most of us understand some little part of the whole. Turner’s remarkable book lets us fill in other parts of the big picture that we most need to get on with our work. It does so through the brilliant device of posing 101 of the most important questions that arise in explorations of the Anthropocene, and then providing short, balanced, and accessible syntheses of what scholars have come up with as answers." – William C. Clark, Harvey Brooks Research Professor of International Science, Public Policy and Human Development, Harvard University

"This book offers a highly accessible and balanced review of the key facts, concepts and ideas that are essential to understand today’s global environmental crisis in all its dimensions. The author, a leading scholar on human–environment interactions, shares his multidisciplinary insights by combining scientific rigour, an engaging style, and didactic figures. This book, full of wisdom, should be kept at your elbow." – Eric Lambin, Professor, Stanford University, USA & University of Louvain, Belgium

"In this time of unprecedented planetary change, the Anthropocene, the sheer multitude and complexity of human-caused environmental problems can feel bewildering. From global climate disruption to the biodiversity crisis to an ocean filling up with plastic, the sheer novelty and diversity of global environmental changes can leave one with far more questions than answers. Now, thanks to Billie Turner, a founder of sustainability science with nearly half a century of experience studying and teaching social-environmental change, we have a place to go for answers that get to the bottom of the most challenging questions of the Anthropocene. How did we get here, where we are going, and what have we learned in shaping this human age? Is a sustainable human future even possible on a planet we are so rapidly changing? Whatever your questions are, this book’s enumerated question and answer format provides unique opportunities to both explore the big picture of Earth’s transformation by humanity and to drill down into the details and original source materials that back it all up with solid science. This is a book that should be on the desktops of everyone interested in human transformation of this planet." – Erle Ellis, Professor of Geography and Environmental Systems, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and author of The Anthropocene: A Very Short Introduction

"An authoritative guide to the Anthropocene that readily puts a broad range of information at your fingertips, while prompting deeper exploration of this complex topic as you find one question leads to another and then another in a book filled with thoughtful answers." – Glen MacDonald, Distinguished Professor, Endowed Chair in California & The American West, Department of Geography, UCLA

"Billie Turner's new book helps us understand the nature of the Anthropocene reality and the profound challenges it presents for civilization. Highly recommended." – Carl Folke, Professor, Stockholm Resilience Institute, Stockholm University

"This is a comprehensive and authoritative volume that’s a must-have for anyone interested in understanding the state of the planet and our collective role in shaping current conditions. I especially appreciate that Turner takes a complex issue – the Anthropocene – and breaks it into easily digestible components that’s interesting to read. This will be in the canon of human–environment interactions and should be on everyone’s bookshelves." – Karen C. Seto, Frederick C. Hixon Professor of Geography and Urbanization Science, Yale School of the Environment, Yale University


The Anthropocene is an authoritative desk-top reference work for students of geography, the environment and sustainability. Through a series of 101 interconnected questions and answers spanning nine thematic sections, the book provides a comprehensive survey of humankind's impact on the global environment from the Late Stone Age to the present day.

Unrivalled in scope, the book distills the latest research findings and scholarship across a remarkable range of topics concerning the evolving human–environment relationship. These include the broad history of human-induced changes in the environmental conditions of the planet; the major human impacts on the Earth and their consequences; and the different causes and rationales applied to understanding these environmental changes. All questions are answered succinctly and rigorously and draw on a wealth of contemporary evidence and scientific theories. The book is colour illustrated throughout, answers are fully cross-referenced and further readings are suggested for those wishing to delve deeper. For anyone seeking to understand the human-induced changes to our planet and the challenges these pose for sustainability, this book is an invaluable resource. It provides a masterly presentation of the human footprint on the Earth system.


Section I The Anthropocene and the Earth System: foundational concepts
Section II The emergence of the Anthropocene
Section III Human changes to the land surface/lithosphere
Section IV Human changes to the hydrosphere
Section V Human changes to the atmosphere
Section VI Human changes to life in the biosphere
Section VII The human causes of the Anthropocene
Section VIII Understanding our relationship with nature
Section IX Sustainability in the Anthropocene

Author Information

B. L. Turner II is Regents’ Professor and Gilbert F. White Professor of Environment and Society at Arizona State University. A geographer and human-environmental scientist, he has engaged in research on a wide range of topics across the human–environment relationship and sustainability. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (US), American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Philosophical Society and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association of American Geographers.

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Billie Turner discusses his book.