In 2000, Paul Crutzen, the Nobel Laureate atmospheric chemist, declared that we were no longer living in the era of the Holocene, the Recent Era, but rather in the Anthropocene, an era that had started in the 1790s when a layer of carbon began to be laid down worldwide by humans burning coal. Crutzen and his colleagues parse the Anthropocene into three stages. The first, which lasted from the 1790s through World War II, was characterized by a very slow rate of chemical accumulation in the atmosphere and oceans. During the 1950s, postwar consumerism greatly increased the use of hydrocarbons and other chemicals in a second period that scientists deemed the “Great Acceleration.” By the 1990s, the third stage had taken hold: a growing global acknowledgement that humans were driving climate change and that we could choose our role in that dynamic. …see the entire article in the print version of September’s Sculpture magazine.