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The Pyrocene


I coined the term Pyrocene as a catchphrase in a 2015 essay titled "Fire Age" published in Aeon.  Since then I've started using it regularly, and in 2019 began to propose it as an informing principle (in a literary sense) by which to understand the world our pact with fire has made.  I have long regarded all of the Holocene as an Anthropocene.  From a fire perspective I now regard the Anthropocene as a Pyrocene. 


This page has links or PDFs from essays I've written on the theme.  I'm at work on a short book that will develop the notion with more heft; the University of California Press will publish it in fall, 2021.  Basically, the concept says we are in a Fire Age of comparable scale to the Ice Ages of the Pleistocene.  Its core premise is that we made an alliance with fire that gave us small guts and big heads, and then took us to the top of the food chain, and now threatens  to unhinge the planet. Whether that alliance is a mutual assistance pact or a Faustian bargain may be the question of our time.


Fire Age (original essay from Aeon, 2015)


The planet is burning (expanded essay in Aeon, Nov 2019). Leyokki has produced an art video on the theme.

Aesthetics for the Pyrocene - a meditation for Aeon/Psyche

Portal to the Pyrocene - commentary on Fort MacMurray fire

Welcome to the Pyrocene.  An elaboration in Grist on an excerpt from my forthcoming book.

Between Three FiresArizona Republic (4 July 2021)

From Pleistocene to Pyrocene: fire replaces ice.  Earth's Future (17 Oct 2020).  A commentary on the concept for AGU readers.

Yale Environent 360: Paradoxes of the Pyrcene

Q&A on the Pyrocene for Bloomberg City Lab (August 2020)

Welcome to the Pyrocene (165 KB)

From the lightning bolt to the SUV  (from Natural History)

Portal to the Pyrocene (440 KB)

 Alaska as North America's portal to the Pyrocene  (from Natural History)