‘Living In The Human Age’

09:46AM Sep 18, 2019
Quebec City
Farming practices near Quebec City showcases the environmental effects of The Human Age.
( Dennis Dimick )

Dennis Dimick wants you to see what he sees. As a 35-year veteran of National Geographic, he has traveled the globe and witnessed the effects of the Anthropocene, which means The Human Age.

The term Anthropocene was coined about 20 years ago by scientists to describe the era where humans have become the dominant species on earth.

“Since about 1950 we have seen what is called the ‘Great Acceleration’: a tripling of human population; a dramatic rise in energy use primarily from coal, oil and natural gas for electricity; industrialization and urbanization; and vast land-use change for agriculture and urbanization,” Dimick says. ”We have cut forests and plowed up grasslands to grow more food for this rising population, and to give us places to work and live.”

That sounds a lot like a description of climate change, but Dimick says climate change is just one symptom of the Anthropocene.

The son of fisheries biologists raised on a farm in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Dimick first witnessed the effect of human progress when his family’s farm was cut in half by an interstate highway, and he saw clear-cut logging of nearby forests.

First-Hand View

After earning degrees in agriculture and agricultural journalism, Dimick’s career included serving for more than a decade as National Geographic’s environment editor, and guided major projects on climate change, energy, freshwater, population and food security. He twice was involved in magazine stories on the High Plains Aquifer, a major source of groundwater in Kansas and seven other states. In 2014, he conceived and led a multiyear series, titled “The Future of Food,” on global food security.

To help others see and understand what he has witnessed, Dimick will deliver the sixth Henry C. Gardiner Global Food Systems Lecture at Kansas State University on Oct. 14.

The goal of his lecture is to create a larger framework than just climate change for the discussion. Dimick says other symptoms of Anthropocene include deforestation, declining aquifers, species extinctions and air pollution, which are results of expanding population, energy use and land use.


Dennis Dimick will deliver “Living in the Human Age” at the Henry C. Gardiner Global Food Systems Lecture at Kansas State University on Oct. 14. Learn more at k-state.edu/research/global-food