Anthropocene Days

John Dargavel

Is that the nub of the world’s environmental crisis: that in the business of everyday, we pass by with our connections unacknowledged?

Anthropocene Days gathers 27 easy-to-read short essays about the environment and climate change in everyday life. While the world and governments are beset by the great woes of changing climate, deforestation, species extinction, air pollution, fouling oceans and so on, we go about individually and locally as best we can from day to day. Anthropocene Days contends that these two domains, so apparently separate, are essentially connected.

The book looks at the diverse and mundane activities of daily life to show how the environment is experienced, and does this very personally by drawing its observations from the author’s life. It is part memoir, part recent history – a medley of short essays with themes of landscape change, forests, trees, war, fire, pestilence and the domestic life of housing, dusting and clutter. Motivated by present concerns, some reach back to the 1940s. They are set in Australia, Britain, India, Singapore and America.

Anthropocene Days is a deceptively easy read. It does not hector readers on what to do, but its ruminations, drawn from long engagement with environments, encourage reflection on how we pass our everyday lives while the planet changes.


John Dargavel (b. 1932) has been deeply engaged in forests, environments, science, people, politics and history. Inquisitive and impatient at established boundaries, he has been drawn into biography, cultural landscapes and the place of trees in remembrance. He has written papers, books and a play, and has edited collections. His most recent book on the history of forest science over the last three centuries, Science and Hope: a Forest History was written with Elisabeth Johann and published in 2013 by The White Horse Press, followed by a German edition in 2018. His most recent collection, Restoring Forests in Times of Contagion: Papers to Celebrate John Evelyn’s 400th Birthday was edited with Ben Wilkie and published online. John was born in London, trained as a forester in Scotland and has worked in different regions of Australia. He was a founding member of the Australian Forest History Society. He is an Honorary Associate Professor in the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University. He now lives in Melbourne.


Blackbirds Singing in the Apple Tree, a Preface
Wartime Days
Becoming a Forester
Transforming Landscapes
Presence of History
Kindness, Cruelty and Efficiency
Promise and Practice
Under the Banyan Tree
Going to the Cinema
The Bush Capital
Dust and Dusting
Trotsky, Stalin and my Solar Panels
Mulligans Flat
Returning to Braudel
Looking for Meaning
Going to Kew Gardens
Finding Eden in a Cornish Pit
Two Singapore Gardens
Other People
Wurundjeri in the Park
Going on Demos
Pestilence Days
Reading in the Shade, an Ending

Publication date, 28 February 2023

ISBN 978-1-912186-68-6 (HB) £40