“Fragile Earth: seeds, weeds, plastic crust”
              Crystal Bennes
              “Man has no power of altering the absolute conditions of life; he cannot change the climate of any country […] It is an error to speak of man ‘tampering with nature’ and causing variability.” Charles Darwin wrote those words in 1868, nine years after the publication of On the Origin of Species. His view that human action has no lasting impact on nature remains widespread. It has underpinned disagreements among the geological community in determining whether or not humanity’s impact on the planet warrants its own named era: the Anthropocene. The conception of the Earth as a fragile system threatened by the actions of its human occupants, actions which could lead to adverse consequences on geological timescales, is relatively recent. Given the steep rise in social and political attentiveness to climate change in recent years, it is hardly surprising that cultural institutions have followed suit. In 2019, a number of major exhibitions around the world have focused on nature and climate: “Broken Nature” at the Milan Triennale, Nature—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial in New York, and the travelling exhibition “Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment” that opened at Princeton University Art Museum. London’s Tate Modern has tried to pass off the ...
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