Anthropocene Mapping

International education organization Globaïa has marked the birth of the world’s 7 billionth person by mapping the human epoch, in a project called “A Cartography of the Anthropocene.” The Canadian Anthropologist and founder of Globaïa, Félix Pharand-Deschenes, has taken data from US government agencies to plot maps of all the networks that connect humanity -be that transport, power, shipping, media or the web. The idea isn’t solely to map the current state of the planet, but to look deeper at the challenges that humanity is up against. A 3-minute journey through the last 250 years of our history, from the start of the Industrial Revolution to the Rio+20 Summit. The film charts the growth of humanity into a global force on an equivalent scale to major geological processes.

Animation by global education initiative Globaïa and Felix Pharand-Deschenes as part of the environmental Anthropocene Project. Shows the human influence on our planet as built-up environment and city lights and global land transport and energy infrastructures, 2012.

Pharand-Deschenes defines the anthropocene as: “A period marked by a regime change in the activity of industrial societies which began at the turn of the nineteenth century and which has caused global disruptions in the Earth system on a scale unprecedented in human history: climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution of the sea, land and air, resource depredation, land cover denudation, radical transformation of the ecumene, among others. These changes command a major realignment of our consciousness and worldviews, and call for different ways to inhabit the Earth.” His cartography of that period illustrates exactly how dependent we all are on each other, and argues that we can’t consider ourselves individuals, or citizens of a particular country, but instead as mere nodes in a wider network of humanity, sharing a scarcity of resources but an abundance of information. Pharand-Deschenes says: “Behind the name lie the challenges of our time. This concept illustrates and groups together the main agents that shape our planet, who literally engrave its surface -it is the anthroposphere, the human layer that grows inside the biosphere.”


Globaïa is a global education organization whose mission is to foster a consistent and informed participation of citizens in environmental issues by understanding the multiple dimensions of today’s world and its likely future.

Félix Pharand-Deschenes is the founder and director of Globaïa. He is an anthropologist by training, specializing in ethnogeography. He worked for over 10 years as a science communicator in various public and private institutions. This journey, inspired by the deep love he bears for nature since childhood, led him to focus on the terrestrial biosphere and the impacts caused by human activities. Félix has created Globaïa to express and disseminate an integral, scientifically accurate, vision of our shared world.

The name Globaïa is made of the words, ‘global’and ‘Gaia’. Gaia was the primordial mother goddess of the land in ancient Greek cosmology. This name is itself made of two words: [Ge], originating the Sumerian, for “Earth” and [Aia], derived from Indo-European, for ‘grandmother’.