Hazards and disasters in the Anthropocene: some critical reflections for the future

14 August 2019

The arrival of the Anthropocene presents many challenges—both theoretical and practical. Scholars in different disciplines, practitioners, the public and others, are all considering the meaning of the Anthropocene and how its arrival affects their ways of knowing and doing. Given that a dominant narrative of the Anthropocene is one of a coming crisis, hazard, and disaster experts from different disciplines have much to contribute. Here, I briefly summarize the trajectory of hazards’ and disasters’ research through to the present to provide the context to ask a series of critical questions that experts in hazard and disaster might address to make theoretical and practical contributions to making the Anthropocene as good as it might be. The questions considered are: how useful is the contemporary crisis narrative of the Anthropocene for understanding the planetary history of hazards and disasters, and coupled to this; is the modern language of disaster risk reduction useful for understanding past disasters; how do we give voice to the more-than-human experiences of Anthropocene disasters; is it possible to mitigate the impacts of future hazards and disasters within the Anthropocene without addressing the root causes of vulnerability; how do we make space for slow emergencies and what do slow emergencies mean for understanding hazard and disaster in the Anthropocene; and finally, does the scholarship of hazard and disaster provide evidence useful for informing the debate about an early or late-start for the Anthropocene? © 2018, The Author(s).