The Anthropocene Era: Is Man Dominating Nature?
Posted by dorian on August 21, 2009
Welcome to the Anthropocene!
By Hors Service
Ahoy terrians! The world we knew is now over. The usual Earth was comfortably installed since the last ice age 10,000 years ago in the Holocene, but Man has now overpowered natural processes which regulated the geophysical activities of our Planet.
The idea isn’t new: Antonio Stoppani in 1873 was already proposing the name of “Anthropozoic” to account for the new telluric force. At that time, he was hoping that the increase of the temperatures following the consuming of coal and petrol could prevent Earth from a new Ice Age (as the Little Ice Age http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Ice_Age).
Well, today we have changed our minds.
The proposal has been raised again by the Nobel Prize Paul Crutzen in 2000, to account for all the transformations the human presence is generating.
After years and years of debate, the Geological Society of London decreted in february 2008, http://www.gsajournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-abstract&doi=10.1130%2FGSAT01802A.1&ct=1, that the world turned in 1800: the stratigraphical datas and multiple sources indicates that we are now leaving the relatively stable period that allowed the developement of agrarian and urbanistic civilisations for an unreliable age, marqued by chronic instablity of climates, the increase of extreme phenomenons (floods, tornados, desertification) and a general drifting towards global warming.
The influence of Mankind can be seen not only in the climate:
We have a great impact on evolution, by favorising some species ( “pets” -dogs, cats..- “useful” -cows, goats…- and “parasites” -rats, pigeons…-) to the detriment of others (predators species dangerous for man, for example) and also by modifying the earth’s landscapes by agriculture or pollution. We also impact our planet’s geology, by modifying riverbeds and protecting our coasts from erosion. By deforestation, we’re provoking landslides. We’re exposing new areas to air, areas that were previously under water (polders).
On of the best examples of our incredible power is the selective pressure put on the pepper moth in the industrial England of the XIXth century:
The black peppered moths were predominantly found on polluted trees, because it helped them to hide from birds. When the government decided to clean the forest, it was found that the white peppered moths were the predominant species.
The impact of man is said to be tracable in the geological strata: as we release in the atmosphere things previously buried in the earth (like uranium particles), we can easily trace the progess of the industrialisation.
Despite political denials (like the Bush administration, which censored more than 400 scientific reports), global warming is now of + 0,6°C (33.08 farenheit) on a global scale, with the sea going higher than 3 mm (.12 inches) per year since 1993, and the ocean is acidifying.
Compared to the history of the Earth, these evolutions are extremely fast: some say, for example, that the Earth has not experienced such a big wave of extinction of species since 65 million years.
Anthropocene is not a judgment of good or evil in man. It is saying that we are now in charge of our planet. Let’s hope that we are responsible enough.
+ + + + +
Partly translated from Sciences Et Avenir, August 2009