Traveller's Teacup

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Have some anthropocene with your weetbix.

There’s a new scientific word, and its about to enter your living room.

Two weeks ago at a fascinating conference at London’s British Geological Society,  leading earth scientists including prominent Nobel prize Laurent Paul Crutzen (know for his ozone depletion research), editors from Science & Nature magazines, BBC, National Geographic, NY Times etc etc,etc were all in the room to listen and mull over  a potentially “new geological epoch – the  Anthopocene “. In a nutshell, new geological layers of the earth are indicating humanity’s activity  and effects across the planet. Geology is indicating  humanity as the main driver of global change.

Since the last ice age 10, 000 years ago, humanity’s fingerprint is increasingly evident in the ground – from  earlier mega-fauna extinction and the use of fire technologies, to agricultural river course changes, dams, explosive population growth, deforestation, industrialization and atomic testing – to name a few case examples. And as  Norwegian International Lawyer, Davor Vidas put it,” If carbon is in the air, its …, if carbon is in the water then its fluid, but if carbon is in the rock, its proof.”

It was a dense day, and whilst listening to the scientists and storytellers sketch this “multi-dimension icon of stratigraphy”, I could not stop Jared Diamond’s case studies of resource depletion and “collapse” entering my mind.

A highlight was a presentation by ANU’s Professor Will Steffen. I recommend his TEDx lecture below. Particularly get your head around “The Great Acceleration” concept which statistically indicates a rapid upward flux of human endeavor over the last 50 years… its phenomenal calculations and is very dangerous (what goes up must come down!).

But whats interesting right now, is the signing of  last week’s Stockholm Memorandum by over 17 Nobel laureates. The Memorandum clearly states we have officially entered a new geological era which is indicating make or break dire consequences.

“We cannot continue on our current path. The time for procrastination is over. We cannot afford the luxury of denial”.

If other epochs are anything to go by, well……. the beginning of our shining new epoch is serious kaka.  Have we finally reached our planetary boundaries?  and Bottisatvas, will we have the balls (and ovaries) to take this signal from geology seriously?

One Response to “Have some anthropocene with your weetbix.”

  1. citt says:

    Links to the Anthropocene literature include:

    *The Anthropocene by Paul Crutzen and Eugene F. Stoermer (2000)

    *Anthromes Project: Building a Human Framework for Ecology & Earth Science
    Humans have become primary global shapers of ecosystem form, process, and biodiversity, on a par with the forces of climate and geology.

    *Anthropocene streams and base-level controls from historic dams in the unglaciated mid-Atlantic region, USA
    With no equivalent in the Holocene or late Pleistocene sedimentary record, modern incised stream-channel forms in the mid-Atlantic region represent a transient response to both base-level forcing and major changes in land use beginning centuries ago.

    *Stratigraphy of the Anthropocene
    The Anthropocene, an informal term used to signal the impact of collective human activity on biological, physical and chemical processes on the Earth system, is assessed using stratigraphic criteria.

    *The New World of the Anthropocene
    The notion that humankind has changed the world is not new.

    *Perspectives The Anthropocene: conceptual and historical
    The human imprint on the global environment has now become so large and active that it rivals some of the great forces of Nature in its impact on the functioning of the Earth system.

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