From passengers to crew: introductory reflections
It is only very recently that we humans have come to recognize our place on this Earth. As Marshall McLuhan once put it: “On Spaceship Earth there are no passengers; everybody is a member of the crew” (, p. 50). While we have never been simply passengers, our status as crew has mattered little for almost all of human history; to paraphrase Harari  we have been decidedly “insignificant” crew members. This changed drastically with our capture of fossil fuels, or “ancient sunlight” as Hartmann  calls it, to drive the machine of successive industrial revolutions . Thanks to these developments, the Earth has transitioned out of the Holocene and into what is now being termed the Anthropocene, an age in which our status as crew members is hugely significant. We have become “geological actors”  whose actions have shaped, and are reshaping, the systems that have kept Spaceship Earth on its course for some 10, 000 years. The consequences of this new era are both profoundly global...
Cameron Harrington, Emma Lecavalier, and Clifford Shearing would like to thank the participants and authors for their contributions. Special thanks go to Ricky Röntsch for managing and editing the Special Issue and Elaine Atkins for her assistance.
We acknowledge funding support from the South Africa-Norway Research Cooperation (SANCOOP) Fund, the National Research Foundation of South Africa. Any opinion, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed herein are ours alone and the agencies do not accept any liability in regard thereto.
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