Footprints In Search of Future Fossils – David Farrier

Footprints In Search of Future Fossils, published in 2020, is the first book I ready from Scottish literature professor David Farrier. When I first saw the Footprints, I knew I would love it and that it would teach me a lot, but I could not imagine how much more David Farrier would have to offer to the reader. Although I felt the joy of learning something new on every page and every chapter, I realized that I got tired after a while. So it took me days to finish this beautiful book.


Footprints explores the footprints that people will leave centuries from now. It makes one think about how many objects that do not naturally disappear in nature or take a long time to disappear can be perceived by future people. While examining what is left to us from the past, we both use scientific methods and benefit from many different fields of science. While linguists research ancient writings, sociologists seek to understand the lives of ancient societies; geologists, archaeologists and more are struggling to make sense of the past. Will it be like this in the future? Will the people of the future be able to see how we, the people of the Anthropocene age, purposefully ruined our lives?

Footprints In Search of Future Fossils - David Farrier

Footprints includes David Farrier’s terrific research and his experiences while doing this research. From literature to art, from mythology to history, the author explains what he wants to convey to the reader with very appropriate examples. When I was researching the names he mentioned, eager to learn more and digest it all, I saw again and again how little I knew. I thought that in order to do justice to this book, I had to research in detail on many different topics.

Like any excellent nonfiction book, Footprints made me want to learn more; it made me realize the issues that could change my way of thinking and finally increased my admiration for humanity and the world. Even if you are not interested in the subject, I suggest you take a look at Footprints; you will learn and be amazed much more than you expected. Enjoy!

Footprints In Search of Future Fossils - David Farrier

Footprints In Search of Future Fossils

A profound meditation on climate change and the Anthropocene and an urgent search for the fossils—industrial, chemical, geological—that humans are leaving behind

What will the world look like in ten thousand years—or ten million? What kinds of stories will be told about us?

In Footprints: In Search of Future Fossils, the award-winning author David Farrier explores the traces we will leave for the very distant future. Modern civilization has created objects and landscapes with the potential to endure through deep time, whether it is plastic polluting the oceans and nuclear waste sealed within the earth or the 30 million miles of roads spanning the planet. Our carbon could linger in the atmosphere for 100,000 years, and the remains of our cities will still exist millions of years from now as a layer in the rock. These future fossils have the potential to reveal much about how we lived in the twenty-first century.

Crossing the boundaries of literature, art, and science, Footprints invites us to think about how we will be remembered in the myths and stories of our distant descendants. Traveling from the Baltic Sea to the Great Barrier Reef, and from an ice-core laboratory in Tasmania to Shanghai, one of the world’s biggest cities, Farrier describes a world that is changing rapidly, with consequences beyond the scope of human understanding. As much a message of hope as a warning, Footprints will not only alter how you think about the future; it will change how you see the world today. 

David Farrier

David Farrier teaches at the University of Edinburgh. In 2017, Footprints won the Royal Society of Literature’s Giles St Aubyn Award for Non-Fiction. He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

A Non-Fiction a Month

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