I may need to spend time tracking down TV classics from the 1960s to 80s. Adam Scovell’s excellent survey of British TV fictional alarm calls reminds us how Anthropocene warnings have been with us for almost as long as the Great Acceleration itself. “It’s not that these programmes were ahead of their time: it is more frustratingly, that we have moved on so little in how we deal with the monumentality of ecological issues and their increasing scarring of the strata of our planet; the danger has been growing but with far more fervour than our willingness to address it.”
Among my favourite of his 1970s ‘Cathode-Ray Anthropocene foreshadowings’ must be classic-era Doctor Who stories such as The Green Death – secret chemical dumping causes mutation, breeding “a form of giant maggot which festers under the earth; the land as rotten as a piece of old meat” – and the series Changes, where “Pylons, toasters and cars are all destroyed as its lead character, Nicky, voyages through the newly primitive, apocalyptic England.”
And there’s no forgetting how well 1985’s Edge of Darkness suited not just that Cold War era’s gathering global-local environmental crises, but also James Lovelock’s emerging Gaia hypothesis.