From the Nominator
In the Anthropocene, we have come face to face with an existential riddle. Oliver Morton captured it eloquently: “Humans have become so powerful that they have become a force of nature—and forces of nature are by definition those things beyond the power of humans to control.” This is strange and difficult territory, just the sort of stuff that we created this magazine three years ago to cover. And in that spirit, we’ve dedicated our fourth print issue to exploring how our understanding of nature, and our connection to it, is dramatically shifting—and how conservation might look very different in the 21st Century than it did in the 20th. From a story that upends Darwin’s ideas about evolution to one that explores how satellite surveillance technology is reframing our connection with nature in some of the same profoundly disturbing ways that social media reframed our connections with each other, the issue is provocative from start to finish. Nostalgia tugs hard at our narratives about nature. But the Anthropocene demands that all of us loosen our grip on how we think the future will unfold—and get creative. Nostalgia serves a variety of purposes in our lives. But negotiating change and moving forward generally aren’t among them.