‘The Anthropocene Reviewed’ Embraces Radical Hope

The Anthropocene Reviewed book cover. (Courtesy Penguin Random House)

“The Anthropocene Reviewed” book cover. (Courtesy Penguin Random House)

By Tervela Georgieva, Arts Writer


John Green is a novelist, podcaster, essayist and one-half of the YouTube channel “vlogbrothers.” His latest release, a collection of essays, titled “The Anthropocene Reviewed,” is a reflection of life on a human-centered planet.

Arriving at the most precise moment, the collection is what we desperately crave and need a thorough examination of humanity’s existence on Earth. 

Green Takes Us to the Center of the Earth

In the introduction to the collection, Green writes, “Anthropocene is a proposed term for the current geologic age, in which humans have profoundly reshaped the planet and its biodiversity.” It doesn’t take long after that to find out everything on Earth is influenced by human activity.

Green follows the footprints of the Anthropocene, tracking their influence past the surface into what seem to be unlikely places. Nothing is off limits. Essays such as “Halley’s Comet,” “Scratch ’n’ Sniff Stickers,” “Teddy Bears,” “Velociraptors” and “Air-Conditioning” demonstrate the incredible range of topics covered.

Each essay is a gem, molded into shape by Green’s attention to detail, honest curiosity and unwavering compassion. In their focus on a single object, place, or moment in time, they possess the power to tell us something about the world at large.  

Green simultaneously plunges then removes us from the center of it all. In the “Bonneville Salt Flats” essay, he writes, “humans are not the protagonists of this planet’s story. If there is a main character, it is life itself.”

The Future?

Reading “The Anthropocene Reviewed” feels like being let in on the secrets of the world. Except, the thing is, they shouldn’t be secrets. Maybe some of them have been buried by history, or maybe we’ve tried to hide them from ourselves. Regardless, our ignorance has tremendous consequences for the planet, for every species and for ourselves and all the people we love. Our capacity for terror is undeniable, so is our capacity for wonder. 

For many of us, the future comes with a question mark. What life will be like in the near and distant future is uncertain. Still, we should be hopeful, even in the Anthropocene. Radically so. As humans we’ve demonstrated our capacity to solve issues on a global scale when we set ourselves up for the task. Green gives us the world. Not so we can establish ourselves as the most important thing in it, but so that we can be wholeheartedly in it and of it. Will we take it? 

“The Anthropocene Reviewed” wants us to be the most important thing we can ever be, thorough examiners and lovers of the world. 


The book and associated podcast are widely available in bookstores and wherever you get your podcasts, respectively.


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