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The Anthropocene Era: Is Man Dominating Nature?

Posted by dorian on August 21, 2009

Welcome to the Anthropocene!

By Hors Service

EarthInHand

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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peppered_moth

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.

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Partly translated from Sciences Et Avenir, August 2009


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17 Responses to “The Anthropocene Era: Is Man Dominating Nature?”

  1. dorian said

    hors: i hope you find my partial translation/editing and title acceptable.
    an interesting article!

    Like

  2. Princessxxx said

    oh great, i like that article a lot.

    Like

  3. Hors Service said

    Thank you dorian for your nice changes, which make the article readable.
    Although, on the last phrase, what I would like to mean more exactly is that whatever impact we have on the planet, it isn’t good or bad as such. It’s just that we have the strongest impact on Earth compared to other natural forces.

    But it seems that the message is clear, so don’t bother^^

    I think this also rise some interesting questions about the creative forces and God (don’t hit me Kay^^):
    From the point of view of ants, we’re Superior Beings. We have created and regulated a world in which they leave, but we still can’t control all the details involved. Besides, none of us, humans, designed all this all by himself: our specie does act, evolve, transform the world but noone can be held responsible for this.
    It’s more a sum of individual behaviors.

    What if God was, in fact, a specie of Gods (which would explain all the different Gods we have^^), having created a universe where they have limited control (Like us on computers)?

    *And, somewhere, an intern is blamed for the “Let there be light” stuff^^

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  4. Actually Hors, from the point of view of ants we are completely irrelevant except as a food source. We can’t control or get rid of them and they colonise us at will. The entire city of Melbourne is sitting on one interlinked mega-colony 100km wide: so who’s superior to who?

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  5. Hors Service said

    That’s the point!^^

    If some ants were wondering who was in control of their world, they would certainly deduce that humans are theirs Superior beings, as we can walk/smite them, introduce plagues, we build them homes, we cut their hunting grounds with roads, modify their environnement…
    But we’re still not in control of them^^
    God let us free? What if He just couldn’t do anything about it?

    Like

  6. Oh I like that: god as impotent old buffer frantically running around with a bucket of boiling water……tres drole.

    Like

  7. kay~ms said

    Hi Hors, you said: “What if God was, in fact, a specie of Gods (which would explain all the different Gods we have^^), having created a universe where they have limited control (Like us on computers)?”

    What if our universe is a tiny spec on the toe of a giant? the “what ifs” are endless… the question is, which “what if” makes the most sense.

    you said: “I think this also rise some interesting questions about the creative forces and God (don’t hit me Kay^^):
    From the point of view of ants, we’re Superior Beings. We have created and regulated a world in which they leave, but we still can’t control all the details involved. Besides, none of us, humans, designed all this all by himself: our specie does act, evolve, transform the world but noone can be held responsible for this.
    It’s more a sum of individual behaviors.”

    Yes, we are superior beings to ants BUT we are not SOVEREIGN like God is. Hors, you (like all atheists) are fighting so hard the existence of someone else who is in control of you. Can you even admit (to youself) that it IS a possibility?

    Like

  8. kay~ms said

    Again, to think that there is a God that could create this magnificant (and illogical) existence but then not be able to control it is completely ridiculous and illogical. Precisely like Betty just described with God running around with a bucket of hot water.

    Like

  9. Princessxxx said

    you mean like in the days of noah when he realised what a big mistake he made and had to dump massive amounts of water on everything he created was such a mess?
    i didn’t realize that the water was hot. such a tragic way to go, drowning in hot water.
    sorry i missed it.

    Like

  10. dorian said

    pity the poor ants. i didn’t use boiling water. i used my grandmother’s magnifying glasses. it took longer but eventually there was fire.

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  11. princessxxx said

    oh and screw noah for bringing those two ants along anyway. we could have been done with them.

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  12. dorian said

    i believe it’s the duty of the G20 to make people more aware of better ways to be kinder to our planet. for example, although plastic is one useful industrial invention, because it’s so cheaply manufactured and available, you’ll see that in the poor countries plastic bags are littered everywhere and floating in the rivers and bays where their garbage is dumped.

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  13. kay~ms said

    P, God always had control, the water was His judgement on the people because they misused their free will that God GAVE them. The Lord giveth and the Lord can taketh away.

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  14. Hors Service said

    So according to you Kay, we have free will, but we must use it correctly. For example, to kill abortionist doctors, ostracize those who have multiple sex partners, or find every shadow in the president’s birth. Voe on those who don’t! They shall be condemned to waterboarding.
    🙂
    What use is the Free Will if we can’t make it what we want?

    And a nice logical paradox: If God is omnipotent, then can He create a world over which He has no power? If not, then it’s a limitation, therefor God is not omnipotent. If yes, then He’s limited because He can’t act on this world, therefor He’s limited.
    Conclusion: God is not omnipotent, demonstrated ab absurdo 🙂
    Do you see a fail?

    You said:
    “Yes, we are superior beings to ants BUT we are not SOVEREIGN like God is.”

    What makes you believe that? The majority of the population isn’t even following the Bible. To me, it looks like a failure.
    What real arguments have you got against a specie of Gods, having created something that they try to control?

    “Hors, you (like all atheists) are fighting so hard the existence of someone else who is in control of you. Can you even admit (to youself) that it IS a possibility?”

    I’ve already admited that it was a possibility. I even gave examples of where God could be hiding. But I still think it’s not a very sensible idea.
    And God is not in control: Free Will, remember? 😉

    “Again, to think that there is a God that could create this magnificant (and illogical) existence but then not be able to control it is completely ridiculous and illogical.”

    Why not? Some informaticians can create nice viruses or trojan horses, and can’t be able to control them once they’ve released them.

    Informatic is a marvellous example of the theory I propose: look, nobody created the whole system by himself, nobody has perfect control on it, but yet it is entirely man made.

    Like

  15. Princessxxx said

    i know, right hors? free will.

    kays arguments, which are i think most common in the southern parts of the usa,
    just don’t make any sense.

    anyway, christians are aligning with jews to rebuild solomons temple in isreal where the dome of the rock now stands.

    yesterday i watched “LEFT BEHIND”, a movie about the rapture and the anti-christ, because i wanted to catch up on who this anti-christ is. he seems so popular these days, the greatest thing since chinese take out.

    anyway, they are planning on destroying the dome of the rock and rebuild solomons temple to entice the return of jesus.
    i guess you can call that free will.

    this may seem very gerhadtish to you guys, but it’s true, kirk cameron, whose character’s name was buck, said so

    ah, life in the anthropocene era, i wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

    Like

  16. kay~ms said

    ok, to the free will issue…

    Here’s a comparison to help you (and P) understand…

    Take a child or a pet… there is someone in control of them right? But they still have their free will… how else would they be getting into trouble all the time?

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  17. Hors Service said

    There is someone who look after them, but they can still make things their creator didn’t imagined for them (good things or bad things), or they could even run away!

    But I fully recognize that God could let us into trouble, just so that we learn from our mistakes. No problem with that.
    My point is that the bad things and the good things don’t come from God: they come from us. Only because God let us free.

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