Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 May 2022
Chapter 4 synthesizes the concerns of the first three chapters. It is about four topics that underlie the Anthropocene: gradients (the way qualities vary in their intensity over space and time, and the ways such variations relate to causal processes); grading (the ways agents assess and alter such intensities and experience and intervene in causal processes); degradation (the ways highly valuable variations in qualitative intensities are lowered or lost); and grace (the way agents work to maintain gradients, care for those whose lives have been degraded, and value those agents who work and care in such ways). It reframes a few universal thermodynamic variables as (soon to be, if not already) global sociocultural values: energy, entropy, work, and temperature. In addition, it details some of the key features of one important nineteenth-century cosmology in regard to the origins of the Anthropocene (and the discipline of anthropology).