This essay compares popular and scientific responses to the accelerated climate change and resource exhaustion associated with the Anthropocene. Debates in stratigraphy and other scientific disciplines grapple with the convergence of geologic and historical time, while popular science discourses about diet, exercise, and sexuality insist on turning back the evolutionary clock. By returning to the Pleistocene or Paleolithic, these discourses display an evolutionary nostalgia in the face of massive ecological disruption. These popular works incorporate the science of human evolution into a new form described here as “middle epic” because it offers a slow, heroic temporality for the history of the species. By emphasizing human evolution over climate science, the popular science of lifestyles based on early human behavior constructs evolutionary nostalgia as an ideological response to climate change.

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