A deepening climate crisis
As a biologist who loves The Rime, the message of wilful biodiversity destruction, living with and suffering its consequences, dawning realisation and the finding of (if not always the search for) redemption is all in the Rime. It’s where, I suggest, we are now. I was in the audience at a research seminar when Jan Zalasiewicz, a geologist at the University of Leicester, announced that human impacts on our planet were so great, so extensive and so rapid, that an epoch-scale boundary had been crossed – and crossed sometime in the last two centuries.
I was perched on the edge of my seat when Jan suggested that a new geological epoch was needed, the Anthropocene. An epoch delineated by our actions. I squirmed into my seat as it dawned on me – the Rubicon had been passed, the albatross had been shot, and my world was now physically different. Life really was under threat. I was… we were… living a new geological epoch. Was there any ‘going back’?
In The Rime, killing the albatross sets in motion a series of events that changed the Mariner’s world. Through our mining activities we have moved more sediment than all the world’s rivers. Through burning fossil fuels we have raised the temperature of the planet and begun to acidify our ocean. Through producing plastics and nuclear explosions we have laid down physical markers marking our presence.