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= proposed name for the successor era to the Anthropocene


Glenn Albrecht:

"The next era in human history should be The Symbiocene (from the Greek sumbiosis, or companionship). I created this concept in 2011 as an almost instinctive reaction again the very idea of the Anthropocene (Albrecht 2011). The scientific meaning of the word ‘symbiosis’ implies living together for mutual benefit and I wish to use this profoundly important concept as the basis for what I hope will be the next period of Earth history. As a core aspect of ecological and evolutionary thinking, symbiosis and its associated symbiogenesis, affirms the interconnectedness of life and all living things (Scofield and Margulis 2012)." (


Glenn Albrecht:

"Symbiocene principles

In order to get to that preferred state of living, I suggest that we adopt some of the key organising principles of the Symbiocene.

These must include: the full elimination of toxic-to-life substances; the complete and safe biodegradability of all materials in human use and the exploitation of non-polluting forms of safe, renewable energy.

They must also include the priority use of the renewable resources of locality and regions; respect for the shared life or biocomunen of all holobionts and the creation, protection and repair (if necessary) of the symbiotic bonds between species at all scales.

As all of these principles are applied, there will appear, on the very youngest soil strata on Earth, a new, thin film of vitally organic microbiome substances that will cover everything.

The emergent hybrid sumbiofilm will mark the proper geological commencement of the Symbiocene. From that point onwards, as we rapidly build the Symbiocene, that 'organic' layer will completely cover the multitude of sins left by the Anthropocene." (


Glenn Albrecht:

"Big picture systems theory and other animistic Gaian ways of thinking tend to favour managing the big system over allowing the micro to spontaneously build the macro.

From the perspective of micro-symbiosis, Gaia is the net result of trillions of micro-events happening within and between organisms throughout the habitable parts of the planet: it is not the prime mover of those events.

The same thinking can be applied to the human being: we are not what we thought we were. We are a collection of diverse organisms, known as holobionts, vitally united by a shared life, not inherently atomistic, isolated, egocentric individuals.

The ideas derived from this understanding of symbiosis have yet to be fully integrated into the diverse domains of human activity. A Greek root of symbiosis, sumbios, or "living together", becomes the core for a new set of concepts.

Humans must become ‘sumbiocentric’ thinkers in order to get out of the anthropocentrism of the Anthropocene.

Using the new discipline of ‘sumbiology’, to fully understand the inter-connections in life, enables us to give priority to the maintenance of symbiotic bonds in what we can now call the ‘symbioment’.

We must say goodbye to ‘the environment’ as all it has done is perpetuated the myth of human separation from nature.

Some humans have done well in the short-term defying symbiosis in our industrial gigantism and monocultures, but it is now time for all humanity to re-join the diversity and unity of rest of life.

The term, ‘the Symbiocene’ was first used by me in a blog post I wrote in 2011. The very idea of the Anthropocene outraged me and I wanted out of it. It felt like a metastasizing cancer.

In order to imagine a new pathway for an optimistic future, I created the meme of the Symbiocene to form the basis of what I hope will be the next period (cene) in human history.

Sumbiology delivers a new form of thinking that shows us how the symbiotic and mutually supportive processes that are found in life can be incorporated into human social and technological systems.

The creative thinking required to achieve this is massive, but it also presents an exciting and optimistic challenge for all humanity, one that also entails huge amounts of creativity and employment. Symbiotic growth is good.

In what I hope will be a relatively short period of time (perhaps decades), there will come a point in human social development where almost every element of culture, agriculture, economy, habitat and technology will be seamlessly re-integrated back into earthly symbiotic life.

An important consequence of re-integration will be that our psychoterratic emotions will again become positive. Solastalgia will be ‘on the run’ by the 2070s and our biophilia, topophilia, endemophilia and eutierria will once again be freely experienced." (

Imagining The Symbiocene

Glenn Albrecht:

"Let us now try to imagine The Symbiocene and the politics of how it might function. The new era will be characterised by human intelligence that replicates the symbiotic and mutually reinforcing life-reproducing forms and processes found in living systems. Given that we have evolved as a species within the pre-existing evolutionary matrix, such intelligence lies within us as latent potential. The elements include, full recyclability of all inputs and outputs, the elimination of toxic waste in all aspects of human enterprise, safe and socially-just renewable energy and full and harmonious integration of human industry and technology with physical and living systems at all scales.

In The Symbiocene, human action, culture and enterprise will be exemplified by those cumulative types of relationships and attributes nurtured by humans that enhance mutual interdependence and mutual benefit for all living beings (desirable), all species (essential) and the health of all ecosystems (mandatory). Human development will consist of creative actions that use the very best of biomimicry together with other eco-industrial, eco-technological, eco-agricultural and eco-cultural innovation. Human psychology will be fully nurtured within The Symbiocene (Albrecht 2014).

However, beyond biomimicry we must also have symbiomimicry. Many simply think it is enough to copy the shapes and form of life, but they make no connection to life’s processes. We don’t just copy the form of life, we replicate in all types of human creativity, the processes of life that make the mutually beneficial associations between different life forms strong and healthy. Examples such as the ‘wood-wide-web’ suggest to me that organising resources and processes so that the young, weak and vulnerable get their fair share in order that the totality has the greatest chance of survival and flourishing is fundamental to life. Symbiomimicry in human enterprise will both generate and distribute resources such that, in nurturing all humans, we nurture the life support system on which we all depend.

The geological proof of the presence of The Symbiocene will be the observed gradual disappearance of The Anthropocene as the Earth is cleansed of its toxic legacy and the background rate of global extinction and evolution resumes. In what I hope will be a relatively short period of time (decades? hundreds of years?) there will be a point in human evolution when every element of human culture, habitat and technology will be able to be fully re-integrated back into life and its cycles and processes. From that point onward, within the youngest geological strata, there will hardly be a distinctively human presence left on this Earth. All that will be left to fossilise will be the bones and teeth of people who lived within The Symbiocene." (

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