Home > Summer School > Summer School 2022 > CONSERVATION AND NATURE >  Welcome to the Anthropocene


John Compton, Emeritus Professor, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Cape Town

Starting with farming, and followed by the Industrial Revolution and the rapid burning of fossil fuels, humans have become a major new geological force. We have modified three-quarters of the ice-free land surface, altered the atmosphere, oceans and climate, and in so doing have ushered in the new geologic epoch – the Anthropocene – the human epoch. This course explores the concept of the Anthropocene and its significance locally on the West Coast and globally.


Lecture titles

1.  The start of the Anthropocene and how it came about

2.  Adapting to the new human ecology of the Anthropocene

3.  How and when might the Anthropocene end?


Recommended reading

Thomas, C.D. 2017. Inheritors of the Earth, how nature is thriving in an age of extinction. Allen Lane.

Kolbert, E. 2014. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. Bloomsbury Paperbacks.

Compton, J.S. 2021. West Coast: A Natural History. Earthspun Books.

Compton, J.S. 2016. Human Origins: How diet, climate and landscape shaped us. Earthspun Books.





DATE: Wednesday 26–Friday 28 January 
TIME: 1.00 pm
COURSE FEES: R225 (online)/R330 (in person)