In 2020, like everyone else, my screen time rocketed to the point where I hurt my thumb due to infinite scrolling. To deal with this new pain with the ongoing suffering of the pandemic I was constantly trying to find something soothing and comforting. Luckily, in that pursuit, I found a podcast by John Green called The Anthropocene Reviewed. I’ve heard several kinds of podcasts from true-crime to finance, but this one was something surprisingly unexpected.
Anthropocene- It is the current geological age that we are living in, where humans have affected every part of the ecosystem, climate, biodiversity, environment, you name it. Okay full disclosure, I had been thinking that the only way we’d been affecting our planet as global warming. Listening to this podcast and then reading this book made me realise what a huge impact our tiny actions make on our planet every second.
The contradiction of human power: We are at once far too powerful and not nearly powerful enough. We are powerful enough to radically reshape Earth’s climate and biodiversity, but not powerful enough to choose how we reshape them. We are so powerful that we have escaped our planets atmosphere. but we are not powerful enough to save those we love from suffering.
His book/podcast includes a variety of topics from sunsets to googling strangers, with a little bit of his personal experience connecting to them and those topics are rated in the end. That’s the best part. I can’t be the only one who likes to check several stars a product, or a restaurant, or anything in general has, and I go through all the reviews to see if it’s worth my time and money, it is the safest bet. And we’ve gone completely crazy with the rating system. The only things that are left to be rated and reviewed right now are living-beings, I hope it doesn’t happen any time sooner. It has become an integral part of our lives and we cannot deny that. But I find it a little absurd to rate sunsets, or some grass, or Halley’s comet, or cave paintings. How does one rate those things? John Green has the answer to that question.
I think this is the first book that has mentioned life during COVID and life after COVID . It is refreshing to read our mutual suffering, makes you feel less alone. Pandemic has affected us on so many layers that it’s difficult to unravel them now. One of the things that happened to me during this time was I lost interest in people, nature, and everything happening around me because it was constantly worst and too much to handle. I don’t think I will be exaggerating if I say that this book gave me hope, and a new sense of wonder, and elevated my curiosity to see everything in a completely different filter. I’ve fallen in love with our planet and humanity all over again. It’s so easy to find everything that’s wrong with the world, but difficult to look on the other side and be in awe of how small and insignificant you are in this universe. It’s even more difficult to make a person realise this by mere 300 pages, and that’s the wonder of The Anthropocene Reviewed.
From quark to supernova, the wonders do not cease. It is our attentiveness that is in short supply, our ability and willingness to do the work that awe requires.
Some of my most favourite essays are Halleys Comet, Lascaux Cave paintings, Harvey, Penguins of Madagascar, The yips, Plague and Googling Strangers. As this is a John Green book, the essays go from funny to emotional real quick. And the best part of the Anthropocene Reviewed is that there are so many podcast episodes that didn’t make it in the book that I can go and listen to for free on Spotify. And there are new episodes every month. I find that comforting and something to look forward to in our absolutely uncertain lives right now.
And talking about the uncertainties that we are living in I would like to do something uncertain too- rate art. I don’t know if you have noticed but I never rate the books/movies I watch. But reading this book makes me want to rate everything. I give The Anthropocene Reviewed 5 stars.