Title: Can a pandemic stop or slow the Anthropocene?


Geographia Polonica Vol. 93 No. 4 (2020)



Place of publishing:



24 cm


The entire Earth system consists of fully dynamic conditions. Humankind’s manifold large and small influences on the planet are now very well-documented.Changes are now so vast, their traces so significant, that we have come to term this as if it was genuinely a new Epoch in that history – as the Anthropocene.Recently, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how an ostensibly small event at a single locality can take just a few weeks or months to change the world, and in some real sense to stop it. The author in this article in particular seeks to inject a further dose of far-reaching reflection on our pandemic, its influence on life on Earth, and its possible future consequences. Ultimately, then, it seeks an answer for a key question – as to whether COVID-19 is really in a position to stop, or at least slow, the runaway Anthropocene.With a view to encouraging reflection on humankind’s potentially reduced impact on the planet the Author suggestspriority areas of study in the near future.


Ali, S. (2020). How the current coronavirus pandemic links to questions of ecological sustainability in the Anthropocene. Springer Nature. Sustainability community, 8 April 2020. Retrieved from https://sustainabilitycommunity.springernature.com/posts/63681-how-the-current-pandemic-links-tobroader-questions-of-sustainability-in-the-anthropocene
Barone, E.,Tweeten, L., Wilson, Ch., Law, T. (2020). The coronavirus pandemic has caused carbon emissions to drop. But that likely won't last. Time, July 9 2020. Retrieved from https://time.com/5864374/coronavirus-carbon-emissions/ [11 September 2020].
Braun, B. (2015). From critique to experiment: Rethinking political ecology for the Anthropocene. In T. Perrault, G. Bridge & J. McCarthy (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of political ecology (pp. 102-115). New York: Routledge.
G. Bridge, J. McCarthy (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of political ecology (pp. 102-115). New York: Routledge.
Bryce, C., Ring, P., Ashby, S., Wardman, J.K. (2020). Resilience in the face of uncertainty: Early lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Risk Research, 1-8. doi:10.1080/13669877.2020.1756379.
Burke, M. (2020), COVID-19 reduces economic activity, which reduces pollution, which saves lives. Global Food, Environment and Economic Dynamics. Retrieved from http://www.g-feed.com/2020/03/covid-19-reduces-economic-activity.html [16 May 2020].
Carpenter, S. (2020). As Europe unveils 'green' recovery package, trans-Atlantic rift on climate policy widens. Forbes, 27 May 2020. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/scottcarpenter/2020/05/27/as-europe-unveils-green-recovery-package-trans-atlantic-rift-on-climate-policy-widens/#6f2718c367e3 [4 June 2020].
Castree, N. (2014). The anthropocene and geography I: The back story. Geography Compass, 8(7), 436-449. https://doi.org/10.1111/gec3.12141
Castree, N. (2014). Making sense of nature: Representation, politics and democracy. London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.1080/2325548X.2014.919148
Cohen, M., J. (2020). Does the COVID-19 outbreak mark the onset of a sustainable consumption transition? Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy, 16(1), 1-3, https://doi.org/10.1080/15487733.2020.1740472
Coker, R.J., Hunter, B.M., Rudge, J.W., Liverani, M., Hanvoravongchai, P. (2011). Emerging infectious diseases in southeast Asia: regional challenges to control. The Lancet, 377(9765), 599-609. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(10)62004-1
Cook, B., Rickards, L., Rutherfurd, I. (2015). Geographies of the Anthropocene. Geographical Research. https://doi.org/10.1111/1745-5871.12127
Crutzen, P.J. (2002). Geology of mankind. Nature, 415(23). https://doi.org/10.1038/415023a
Crutzen, P.J. (2006). The Anthropocene. In E. Ehlers, T. Krafft (Eds.), Earth system science in the Anthropocene: Emerging issues and problems (pp. 13-19). Berlin: Springer.
Crutzen, P.J,. Stoermer, E.F. (2000). The "Anthropocene". Global Change Newsletter, 41, 17-18. https://doi.org/10.1007/3-540-26590-2_3
Dołzbłasz, S., Zelek, K. (2019). Wybrane cechy zagospodarowania przestrzennego i aktywności gospodarczej w otoczeniu miejsc przekraczania granicy polsko-niemieckiej, Przegląd Geograficzny, 91(4), 487-510. https://doi.org/10.7163/PrzG.2019.4.3
The Economist. (2020). The coronavirus may sink the cruise-ship business. The Economist, 31 March 2020. Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/business/2020/03/31/the-coronavirus-may-sink-the-cruise-ship-business [7 April 2020].
Edgeworth, M., de Richter, D., Waters, C., Haff, P., Neal, C., Price, S.J. (2015). Diachronous beginnings of the Anthropocene: The lower bounding surface of anthropogenic deposits. The Anthropocene Review, 2(1), 33-58. https://doi.org/10.1177/2053019614565394
Edgeworth, M., Ellis, E.C., Gibbard, P., Neal, C., Ellis, M. (2019). The chronostratigraphic method is unsuitable for determining the start of the Anthropocene. Progress in Physical Geography: Earth and Environment, 43(3), 334-344. https://doi.org/10.1177/0309133319831673
European Commission. (2020). Overview of repatriation flights. Retrieved from https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/20200910_coronovirusoutbreak_euresponse_repatriation.pdf [11 September 2020].
European Commission. (2020). Europe's moment: Repair and prepare for the next generation. Retrieved from https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_940 [4 June 2020].
Furmankiewicz, M., Buryło, K., Dołzbłasz, S. (2020). From service areas to empty transport corridors? The impact of border openings on service and retail facilities at Polish-Czech border crossings, Moravian Geographical Reports, 28(2), 136-151. https://doi.org/10.2478/mgr-2020-0011
Glikson, A. (2013). Fire and human evolution: The deep-time blueprints of the Anthropocene. Anthropocene, 3, 89-92. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ancene.2014.02.002
Global Carbon Project, Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre. (CDIAC). Retrieved from https://cdiac.ess-dive.lbl.gov/trends/emis/meth_reg.html [15 September 2020].
Goldstein, M. (2020). US State Department brings home more than 85,000 Americans in Coronavirus crisis. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelgoldstein/2020/04/10/us-statedepartment-brings-home-more-than-50000-americans-in-coronavirus-crisis/ [11 September 2020].
Gössling, S., Scott, D., Hall, C.M., Ceron, J.-P., Dubois, G. (2011). Consumer behaviour and demand response of tourist to climate change. Annals of Tourism Research, 39(1), 36-58. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annals.2011.11.002
Gössling, S., Scott, D.T., Hall, C.M. (2020). Pandemics, tourism and global change: A rapid assessment of COVID-19. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 1-20. https://doi.org/10.1080/09669582.2020.1758708
Greger, M. (2007). The human/animal interface: Emergence and resurgence of zoonotic infectious diseases. Critical Reviews in Microbiology, 33(4), 243-299. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408410701647594
Gren, M., Huijbens, E.H. (2014). Tourism and the Anthropocene, Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism. https://doi.org/10.1080/15022250.2014.886100
Gren, M., Huijbens, E.H. (Eds.). (2016). Tourism and the Anthropocene. London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315747361
Hall, M.C., Scott, D., Gössling, S. (2020). Pandemics, transformations and tourism: Be careful what you wish for. Tourism Geographies, 22(3). https://doi.org/10.1080/14616688.2020.1759131
Hares, A., Dickinson, J., Wilkes, K. (2010). Climate change and the air travel decisions of UK tourists. Journal of Transport Geography, 18(3), 466-473. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2009.06.018
Harvey, F. (2020, April 1). Financial help for airlines 'should come with strict climate conditions. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/01/financialhelp-for-airlines-should-come-with-strict-climate-conditions
IGC (2020). Retrieved from https://www.igc2020.org/en/ [11 September 2020].
Jaros, V. (2017). Social and transport exclusion. Geographia Polonica, 90(3), 247-263. https://doi.org/10.7163/GPol.0099
Kauffmann, A. (2016). Re-thinking mobility. London: Taylor and Francis. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315244303
Kaufman, A.C. (2020). If we bail out airlines, it better come with climate rules. National Observer, 24 March 2020. Retrieved from https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/03/24/news/if-we-bail-out-airlines-it-better-come-climate-rules
Kolosov, V., Więckowski, M. (2018). Border changes in Central and Eastern Europe: An introduction. Geographia Polonica, 91(1), 5-16. https://doi.org/10.7163/GPol.0106
Kouřil, P., Ferenčuhová, S. (2020). Smart" quarantine and "blanket" quarantine: The Czech response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eurasian Geography and Economics. https://doi.org/10.1080/15387216.2020.1783338
Kowalski, M. (2016). Cykle pokoleniowe w czasie i przestrzeni. Przegląd Geograficzny, 88(4), 489-510. https://doi.org/ 10.7163/PrzG.2016.4.4
Kowalski, M. (2019). Generational cycles and changes in time and space. Geographia Polonica, 92(3), 253-273. https://doi.org/10.7163/GPol.0148
Labonte, R., Mohindra, K., Schrecker, T. (2011). The growing impact of globalization for health and public health practice. Annual Review of Public Health, 32(1), 263-283. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031210-101225
Lew, A.A., Cheer, J.M., Haywood, M., Brouder, P. Salazar, N.B. (2020). Visions of travel and tourism after the global COVID-19 transformation of 2020. Tourism Geographies, 22(3), 455-466. https://doi.org/10.1080/14616688.2020.1770326
Mahato, S., Pal, S., Ghosh, K. (2020). Effect of lockdown amid COVID-19 pandemic on air quality of the megacity Delhi, India. Science of The Total Environment, 730. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.139086
Mallapaty, S. (2020). What the cruise-ship outbreaks reveal about COVID-19. Nature, 580(7801), 18. https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-020-00885-w
Massy, Ch. (2020). COVID-19, the Anthropocene, and transformative change. Agriculture and Human Values, 37(3), 551-552. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10460-020-10080-2
Myllyvirta, L. (2020). Analysis: Coronavirus has temporarily reduced China's CO2 emissions by a quarter. CarbonBrief. 2020.
NASA 2020. Retrieved from https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/146362/airborne-nitrogen-dioxide-plummets-over-china [10 July 2020].
Nygren, K.G., Olofsson, A. (2020). Managing the Covid-19 pandemic through individual responsibility: The consequences of a world risk society and enhanced ethopolitics. Journal of Risk Research. https://doi.org/10.1080/13669877.2020.1756382
Lewis, S.L., Maslin, M.A. (2015). Defining the anthropocene. Nature, 519(7542), 171-180. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature14258
Lorimer, J. (2015). Wildlife in the Anthropocene: Conservation after nature. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. https://doi.org/10.5749/minnesota/9780816681075.001.0001
Moore, A. (2015). Anthropocene anthropology: Reconceptualizing contemporary global change. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 22(1), 27-46. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.12332.
Pászto, V., Burian, J., Macků , K. (2020). COVID-19 data sources: Evaluation of map applications and analysis of behaviour changes in Europe's population. Geografie, 125(2), 171-209. https://doi.org/10.37040/geografie2020125020171https://doi.org/10.37040/geografie2020125020171
Petersen, E., Wilson, M.E., Touch, S., McCloskey, B., Mwaba, P., Bates, M., Dar, O., Mattes, F., Kidd, M., Ippolito, G., Azhar, E.I., Zumla, A. (2016). Rapid spread of Zika virus in the Americas - implications for public health preparedness for mass gatherings at the 2016 Brazil Olympic Games. International Journal of Infectious Diseases, 44, 11-15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijid.2016.02.001
Pongsiri, M.J., Roman, J., Ezenwa, V.O., Goldberg, T.L., Koren, H.S., Newbold, S.C., Ostfeld, R.S., Pattanayak, S.K., Salkeld, D.J. (2009). Biodiversity loss affects global disease ecology. BioScience, 59(11), 945-954. https://doi.org/10.1525/bio.2009.59.11.6
Prokop, P. (2020), Where the Meghalayan meets the Anthropocene: Stratigraphic signals of human-environmental interactions on the periphery of Indian civilization, Geographia Polonica, 93(4) (in press).
Public Health England (2020). Coronavirus (COVID-19): What is social distancing? 4th March 2020. Retrieved from https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/03/04/coronavirus-covid-19-what-is-social-distancing/ [30 June 2020].
Ren, X. (2020). Pandemic and lockdown: A territorial approach to COVID-19 in China, Italy and the United States. Eurasian Geography and Economics 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1080/15387216.2020.1762103.
Rockstrom, J., Klum, M. (2012). The human quest - Prospering within planetary boundaries. Stockholm: Bokforlaget Langenskiold.
Roser, M., Ritchie, H., Ortiz-Ospina, E., Hasell, J. (2020). Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19). Published online at OurWorldInData.org. Retrieved from https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus
Ruddiman, W.F. (2013). The anthropocene. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 41, 45-68. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-earth-050212-123944
Ruiu, M.L. (2020). Mismanagement of Covid-19: Lessons learned from Italy. Journal of Risk Research, 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1080/13669877.2020.1758755
Schmidt, C.W. (2016). Zika in the United States: How are we preparing? Environmental Health Perspectives, 124(9), A157-A165. https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.124-a157
Snowball, I., Hounslow, M.W., Nilsson, A. (2014). Geomagnetic and mineral magnetic characterization of the Anthropocene. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 395(1), 119-141. https://doi.org/10.1144/SP395.13
Sobczyński, M. (2018). Polityczne, ekonomiczne i społeczne przyczyny napływu uchodźców do Europy oraz główne szlaki migracyjne. In R. Żelichowski (Ed.), Droga usiana drutami. Imigrancka odyseja do Europy. Warszawa: ISP PAN.
Won Sonn, J., Lee, J.K. (2020). The smart city as timespace cartographer in COVID-19 control: The South Korean strategy and democratic control of surveillance technology. Eurasian Geography and Economics, 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1080/15387216.2020.1768423
Steffen, W., Crutzen, P.J., McNeill, J.R. (2007). The Anthropocene: are humans now overwhelming the great forces of nature. Ambio, 36(8), 614-621. https://doi.org/10.1579/0044-7447(2007)36[614:taahno]2.0.co;2
Tooze, A. (2020). We are living through the first economic crisis of the Anthropocene. The Guardian, 7 May 2020. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/may/07/we-are-living-throughthe-first-economic-crisis-of-the-anthropocene
Waters, C.N., Zalasiewicz, J. (2018). Concrete: The most abundant novel rock type of the Anthropocene. In D.A. Dellasala, M.I. Goldstein (Eds.), Encyclopedia of the Anthropocene. Vol. 1 (pp. 75-85). Oxford: Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-809665-9.09775-5
Ward, A. (2020). Has Sweden found the best response to the coronavirus? Its death rate suggests it hasn't. Vox, 28 April 2020. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/2020/4/28/21240381/coronavirus-sweden-death-rate-cases-new-york [30 May 2020].
Więckowski, M. (2008). New international mobility of Poles. Espace, Populations, Societes, 2, 261-270. https://doi.org/10.4000/eps.2509
WHO (2020): Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report 120. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports [20 July 2020].
Wolfe, A.P., Hobbs, W.O., Birks, H.H., Briner, J.P., Holmgren, S.U., Ingólfsson, Ó., … Vinebrooke, R.D. (2013). Stratigraphic expressions of the Holocene-Anthropocene transition revealed in sediments from remote lakes. Earth-Science Reviews, 116, 17-34. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.earscirev.2012.11.001
World Bank. (2012). People, pathogens and our planet: Volume 2 - the economics of One Health.
Wu, T., Perrings, C., Kinzig, A., Collins, J.P., Minteer, B.A., Daszak, P. (2017). Economic growth, urbanization, globalization, and the risks of emerging infectious diseases in China: a review. Ambio, 46(1), 18-29. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-016-0809-2
Vallet, E. (Ed.). (2016). Borders, fences and walls. state of insecurity. London - New York: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315569758
Zalasiewicz, J., Waters, C.N., Williams, M., Barnosky, A.D., Cearreta, A., Crutzen, P., … Haff, P.K. (2015). When did the Anthropocene begin? A mid-twentieth century boundary level is stratigraphically optimal. Quaternary International, 383, 196-203. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2014.11.045
Zalasiewicz, J., Gabbott, S., Waters, C.N. (2019). Plastic waste: How plastics have become part of the Earth's geological cycle. In Waste (pp. 443-452). Academic Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-815060-3.00023-2
Zawilska, J.B., Nowak, J.Z. (2002). Rytmika okołodobowa i zegar biologiczny. Sen, 2(4), 127-136.
Zhang, R., Zhang, Y., Lin, H., Feng, X., Fu, T.M., Wang, Y. (2020). NOx emission reduction and recovery during COVID-19 in East China. Atmosphere, 11(4), 433. https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11040433
Żelichowski, R. (2018). Od kultury powitania do kultury odrzucenia - dwie strony tej samej imigranckiej monety. In R. Żelichowski (Ed.), Droga usiana drutami: Imigrancka odyseja do Europy (pp. 55-96). Warszawa: Instytut Studiów Politycznych Polskiej Akademii Nauk.


Geographia Polonica





Start page:


End page:


Detailed Resource Type:


Resource Identifier:

oai:rcin.org.pl:142664 ; 0016-7282 ; 10.7163/GPol.0183


CBGiOS. IGiPZ PAN, call nos.: Cz.2085, Cz.2173, Cz.2406 ; click here to follow the link



Language of abstract:



Creative Commons Attribution BY 4.0 license

Terms of use:

Copyright-protected material. [CC BY 4.0] May be used within the scope specified in Creative Commons Attribution BY 4.0 license, full text available at:

Digitizing institution:

Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Original in:

Central Library of Geography and Environmental Protection. Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization PAS

Projects co-financed by:

Operational Program Digital Poland, 2014-2020, Measure 2.3: Digital accessibility and usefulness of public sector information; funds from the European Regional Development Fund and national co-financing from the state budget.



Citation style:

This page uses 'cookies'. More information