As we plunge deeper into the 21st century and the digital worlds we’ve built, a group of scientists is weighing a decision that could rewrite the very history of the physical world we inhabit. These researchers are trying to discern whether humanity has become a literal force of nature, one so powerful its traces will last until the end of the Earth.
They’ll make their decision, as scientists do, by considering all available evidence, from the tunnels we’ve bored deep underground to extract precious fuels, to the nukes we’ve exploded that have left traces lingering in the teeth of every person under 60, to the climactic changes that have become impossible to ignore even as leaders of the free world do exactly that. But however the scientific debate over the so-called Anthropocene shakes out, one thing is clear: For those of us living 93 million miles from the Sun in the early 21st century, the age of humans has already arrived.
We’re launching Earther because it’s time to confront that reality head-on and explore what it means for our future.
Because from what we’ve seen so far, the age of humans means that everything is changing. All weather events, for instance, now happen in the context of climate change—of an atmosphere warming at rates not seen in tens of thousands of years as we pour carbon into the air at rates not seen in the last 66 million. All species extinctions—and they’re piling up a thousand times faster than scientists expect from natural processes alone—occur against a backdrop of ecological destruction that will continue as we continue to devour resources faster than our planet can produce them. Perhaps most importantly, all movements for environmental justice have become movements for human justice, for the poor and marginalized communities who suffer most from pollution and habitat destruction and the impacts of climate change.
But Earther isn’t going to be an environmental apocalypse site. Sure, we’re going to talk about pollution, and extinction, and climate-fueled disasters, because they matter. But we’re also going to talk about hope. We’re going to explore how biologists are using new technologies to save ailing coral reefs and how activists are fighting to protect some of the most imperiled wild places and animals on Earth. We’re going to talk to the people leading the grassroots movements for environmental justice that are changing the way entire societies think about their relationship with the planet. We’re going to bring you dispatches from a future we all want to live in, with smarter energy systems and infrastructure that can adapt to the rising seas; a future we can be proud to pass on.
And we’re going to geek out a lot, because frankly, Earth is a teeming, crawling, quaking, freezing, sweltering, breathtakingly beautiful laboratory, and our very existence amounts to the largest scientific experiment ever conducted. Sometimes, that’s just plain cool. We are Earth nerds, and whether you’re a park ranger who rises with the Sun every day or you’re more comfortable basking in the glow of a computer screen, we’re pretty sure you’d like to be an Earth nerd, too.
Most importantly, we’re going to cut through the hype and bring you the truth, without condescension or snark, whether we’re investigating inequality in the energy transition, reporting on how fossil fuel companies have distorted science, or making an honest appraisal of the connections between extreme weather and climate change. It’s going to get messy, and complicated, and at times very, very weird.
But here’s the thing about the age of humans: Nothing is normal anymore. There’s probably no “new normal” waiting for us on the other side of the latest shit-storm. There’s just us—seven billion humans on a precious, fragile ball of rock and air and water, hurtling through an endless void. And there are the hard decisions about our future we’ve got to make together.