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Humans Have Messed With Earth So Much, Formal 'Anthropocene' Classification Needed: Scientists


#1

Humans Have Messed With Earth So Much, Formal 'Anthropocene' Classification Needed: Scientists

Anthropocene Working Group honorary chair Colin Waters says "the geological reality of the Anthropocene is now clear." (Photo: NASA)

 From climate change to invasive species to changes in the planets fundamental chemical cycles, the markers indicating profound change make clear Holocene is over.


#2

The future is us and only us!

Good luck kiddies.

Lions, tigers and bears, oh my! Oops, no room, no more!

Just us and only us! Oh my!

Oh my!


#3

This forest fire is lit. While it might be a good idea to jail the arsonists, we’re also faced with a spreading forest fire problem. It’s going to get bigger, and then it’s going to approach the city, and then it’s going to fry the city. By the time it’s approaching the city, putting the forest fire out isn’t going to happen. Smokey says, the time to stop the forest fire is when the thing is kind of small.

So, this avalanche is in progress, this boulder is rolling and is headed for the steep part of the mountain slope.

We’re at an average 405 ppm of greenhouse gases right now. We had the second lowest ice extent in Arctic history. In the Antarctic a chunk of ice pack the size of Delaware broke off, and that section of dark ocean will be absorbing sunlight in future years rather than reflecting the sun back into space.

Eaarth is about to have a runaway Arctic methane/carbon dioxide meltdown, driving our planet’s number from 405 ppm to maybe 1000 ppm. No, we don’t have to do anything to hit 1000 ppm. This sort of avalanche has happened again and again (on a smaller scale) in Eaarth’s geologic history. Our crops are going to be flatter than Puerto Rico’s crops after the hurricane, or dryer than half of California in a bad decade, or burned out of the wheat belt like a Dust Bowl on steroids. Our seas are going to be acid and not so full of fish anymore. Our grocery stores are going to be sparse.

Now, here’s the catch: we can stop this force! I’m an inventor, and I have a good sense of what the world needs to prevent a civilization-endangering ecological
catastrophe.

  1. Right now, we need practical research to prototype and to scale up a number of inventions that almost completely displace fossil fuels, that grow biofuels, that sequester carbon, that restore the Arctic’s natural ice/snow covering and that shield millions of species from mass extinction. We can fight this war, and the research won’t cost us that much. The real shocker will be when we discover that we’re actually saving the world money with the new inventions.

  2. Some of the tasks will require a measure of sacrifice from our governments, but not nearly as much sacrifice as we’re tossing out in recovery costs from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. This isn’t exactly a war we’re fighting, it’s more like a huge forest fire fighting job. We’re going to need to manufacture the resources that our crews need out there, new stuff, not cheap hillbilly stuff.

So, here’s the pitch: we need to throw rotten tomatoes from tomato vines in Florida and Puerto Rico. We need to toss fish found in people’s living rooms in the Houston area. If we can do this, and if we can hold our Congresscritters to actually do the job and not lie all day about it, we can win.


#4

Personally, I always thought that the “Holocene” Epoch should be gotten rid of, as it was very anthropocentric in its concept - after all - with the current day understanding of the Milankovitch cycle, all the “Holocene” was just an interglacial period in the ongoing Pleistocene Ice Age Epoch. Additionally, the Impact of humans probably goes back to the end of the last glacial maximum - where human hunting probably had the main role in the extinction or continental extirpation of much of Pleistocene megafauna. And now, the impact of humans is so great that we may have triggered an end to the earths third major period of glacial cycles in the last 600 million years. So I would get rid of the Holocene, replace it with the Anthropocene starting 12K years ago.

Even then, the period of that modern “anthropos” with its CO2 emitting tools will be so brief on the geologic scale - just an instantaneous blip - that any would-be sentient geologist-beings 100 million years from now will be scratching their head wondering what caused this massive mass extinction and related changes in the stratigraphic and geochemical record. The lucky geologists will find fossil evidence of our more durable machines and buildings along with our bones in those rare locations and strata where dead humans were buried in low swampy deltaic environments. But if we want to communicate about our plight and warnings to possible future sentient terrestrial beings a few hundred million year from now, we will need to building many, many time capsules similar to the Voyager spacecraft Interstellar time-capsule records - using appropriate universal symbolic language of some sort, and highly refractory chemically stable materials, and bury the capsules in just the right tectonic locations (deltas in subsiding foreland belts, like the Ganges Valley or the Sea of Japan, maybe the Bahamas Platform or the Gulf of Mexico coast - where they will be deeply buried then uplifted and exposed in future forehand fold-mountain belts or plateaus. What a marvelous find these will be to future geologist-creatures hundreds of millions of years from now!


#5

With thanks to climate breakdown-deniers like ExxonMobil (of course its former CEO is now Sec. of State) that KNEW that burning endless amounts of carbon would bring us to this, but withheld the information so that the rest of might meet a catastrophic end.
Thanks so much, m’f’ing patriots.


#6

I’d go for our exit from Africa and the first extra-African megafaunal extinction in Australia ca fifty thousand years ago. This was the beginning of a trend, repeated on every island and continent we subsequently inhabited.

No golden spike is required - for me that’s just caving in to our modern penchant for ‘the biggest’, or the ‘best’, etc…

Many, perhaps most, or even all of the major breaks in the geologic time scale are like the one I prefer for beginning of the Anthropocene.

But we are so close in time to this new epoch we have lost perspective.

Hopefully the ‘spin’ will be left to molder somewhere, and the megafaunal extinctions seen in their true light - a new species - us - changing the world - one continent at a time.

The Plutonium spike is a real event - but part of what is rightly termed ‘The Great Acceleration’ - in my opinion, just another event within the new epoch, but possibly the last one before the crash which may be right around the proverbial corner.

Something like say, the first cyanobacteria - then traces of oxygen in the atmosphere - then a lot - then the first snowball Earth - a rolling and complex event - which is exactly the history of homo sapiens upon planet Earth.

The Great Oxygenation event marked the beginning not of an epoch however, but a much larger geologic time unit.

Nevertheless - that’s how this Anthropocene appears to me - an invasive new species driving one world into hiding, as a new world is born.

On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine what new world will emerge after we are gone, but then we are again so close it’s hard to see the bigger picture. If we unleashed all of our nuclear weapons, a MAD event - who knows what the new biosphere would look like, with mutagenic effects and all ? Or maybe it wouldn’t be so dramatic - it might be we wouldn’t be missed - or even remembered.

Except for all those already extinct megafauna, which the stratigraphic record has already encoded.


#7

The responses here are approaching extinction porn in their scope! Saying we are doomed to extinction is no different than the old >>> “the end is near” placards! Scientists beg to differ!

Gee sorry if we end up screwing our the environment to nearly intolerable levels but we are still a hardy species and inventive. Scientists and university labs are at present creating substances that consume carbon so as to produce electricity. As always the early stages are too expensive to produce on the scale needed to capture carbon from the atmosphere but like with most actual inventions (as opposed to imagined ones) bringing such things into the marketplace is an ongoing process of development. But substances do exist that will pull amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and pay for themselves ensuring widespread implementation.

My point is that while it is not one scientist’s job to offer another scientist’s work, all the world’s scientists know the details of what faces humanity and many are working hard to find that carbon neutralizer our environment desperately needs until humanity stops dumping its carbon into the environment in such a reckless manner. Sadly but with deniers like Trump and the Koch brothers et al, humanity is slow to run the race against global climate change.

Moreover, humanity will need housing and food for a few billion more people at the same time. Our species leaves little room for other species and that is a crime that could have been avoided were it not that deniers and greed delayed our applying scientific common sense in saving the day.

Checkout the new developments in carbon capture online for yourselves. The lyrical demise of our species might just be postponed if we can get off fossil fuels quick enough. It ain’t over even when it is over! Carbon capture is in our future!


#8

Thank you.


#9

I really like your comment, but I would like you to expand on one point. When you discuss biofuels do you mean solely in the sense of natural sources being used as a fuel source or natural sources also being used to substitute petrochemical development that may not be used just for fuel such as ethylene production used in plastic manufacturing.

I’m a wary of biofuel production, because as you get above B20, where 20% of the fuel source is not petroleum the energy density of the fuel exponentially decreases. This is one of the greatest problems facing the biofuel industry in that a vehicle will require far more B100 supply than gasoline in a conventional tank. More B100 fuel means more resources, and in the USA the amount of resources required to convert ICVs to B100 is greater in value than the environmental savings of the fuel. This is means that the current technology is not economical, and unless we alter the chemical composition somehow it is unlikely that it ever will be.


#10

Lets apply some logical analysis to your opinion. What do you honestly think would’ve occurred had people known in the 1970s that 50 years from then there would be more climatic disasters? Keep in mind we didn’t have the technology today back in the 1970s. If we did then Exxon Mobil likely would never have sold their Solar project (yes that’s right big bad Exxon did actually invest in solar back in the day, but the project was estimated to only make money 40 years after completion- making it a massive economic loss).


#11

It’s been established that (I believe) in 1977, one of Exxon’s top scientists prepared a report or memo, informing those at the company that might be interested, that if the company (and of course, the others) kept pulling and burning carbon, the planet would experience what it is now manifest. Management suppressed the information. That is my understanding.


#12

Please goto “nature bats last” and study what the good doctor, Dr. Guy McPherson has to say using his teaching tools and video’s. Then get back to me. We loose 200 species a day. The 6th extinction is here, it’s real and we have 13 years or less. Good Night and Good luck


#13

This is obviously a male dominated conversation about a creative planet or in the natural order matriarchal, if it can’t be subdued may just as well perish. The planet is female in the creative sense and while males have the ability to create they still don’t understand the natural order.


#14

I think Mcfearson has gone hyperbolic and that is his right if he so chooses. I have looked into his data sets and extrapolated or reverse extrapolated his conclusions/starting points. I never recommend him to people interested in learning more about climate change. He makes unsubstantiated claims of impending doom that do not bear out over time. Like many ‘hyperalarmists’, he exceeds verifiable parameters and calls his hunches facts. I think he fits a certain type of the end is nigh mentality but his conclusions are implausible. You provide the perfect example of his excess and hyperbolic climate prophecies. I ask you to explain the mechanisms that would cause us to have only 13 years as you say he claims. Even the sixth extinction which is ongoing doesn’t follow such a definable moment. 13 years is an extremely short period of time and while there are possible moments of such rapidity inherent in the climate record, they are not standard climatic processes.

I give you an example. The volcano in Bali may erupt soon. It will spew a great deal of ash as well as carbon into the upper atmosphere altering the planet’s climate temporarily (both cooling by blocking solar rays and yet adding greenhouse gases as well.) This added complexity is part of our planet’s natural systems. On one hand, the eruption could be horrendous like another Krakatoa perhaps. Big cooling effect there. It could be ’ invisible’ emissions of greenhouse gases on a huge scale, so much so that like in the days of the dinosaurs, a similar exhausting of carbon and other greenhouse gases caused a rapid warming event.

Neither might happen too. Mcfearson feeds the colloquial anxieties that are based on poorly understood scientific facts. They are the opposite of Trump in effect. Trump denies without cause … while at times Mac believes the excessive climate change predictions without cause.


#15

I think we understand but are fearful of recrimination(s). Females give us birth but can wilt us with a look. It would be nice to have more input from both genders but sadly I have noted a shift in on-line discussions since the election. That and there was a piece on Alternet the other day about google and facebook changing their way of doing things because of fake news and traffic to sites like this have dropped massively. People aren’t coming forward as they used to.


#16

right


#17

*With all due respect, nature is both female and male. Applying an anthropomorphic sensibility to human interaction with nature is saying that all the bad is male derived while all the good is derived from the female. It doesn’t work that way. Females (last time I looked) went everywhere males did from the arctic to the deep Sahara, from jungle to urban traffic jams. The human species does not function in a monosexual manner except to sell books on social theories and political conflict. Yes women were only recently allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. However they sure as heck drive in the USA and elsewhere now don’t they?

Nature is both male and female depending on which a person prefers to notice. Male and female are a single reproductive unit through evolution.

Sheesh!


#18

People did know but as you can see, they had a lot of years to go before needing to do much about it. Rachel Carson alerted the world to our mutual co-existence with the natural world. We learned that pesticides caused egg shells to be too thin and learned that we were dosing ourselves with nerve toxins. It took a while but eventually DDT was banned. So basically we were learning.

Aside from Trump… we still are.


#19

Biofuels are an economic measure and are in effect carbon producing pre-fossil fuels that do not help get us off fossil fuel use but actually may prolong its use.

Contrast that with a world where cars and trucks run on solar energy not carbon producing fossil fuels of any kind. If we abandon the fossil fuel model ( including burning ‘pre-fossil fuel’ carbon producing ethanol etc ) we avoid catastrophe. I find it bizarre that people will talk ethanol in relation to saving money on fuel/gasoline. Hard to see the need to save money on lower gas prices during utter catastrophe!!!


#20

Grieve

For the turning wheel, the tightening screw, the vanishing light,
the moon above the rising sea, for the dry lake,

Grieve

For the rivers of anger, towers on fire, keyless locks, and crop-
less fields, for the ravishing of the rabbits
hedge, and the bird-
less nest, for the silent juke box in this endless night,

Grieve

For the golden calf and the mad dance of political dogs, howling
in ignorance into the teeth of time,

Grieve

For blood money, and the relentless tide of human suffering,
for the profits of war, and the desperate refugee reaching for a
boneless hand, on the open sea,

Grieve

For the old hum of we the people, for the spiritual violence of
manifest destiny, for the burning forests of moral decay,

Grieve

For the clack clack clack of the star spangled banner,
for the legless and armless marching band,
For the deluge of injustice raining like a hammer,

Grieve

Where in this wilderness of savage capitalism, where in the
intersection
of human rights and private interest,
where is the path to peace and social justice?

Grieve

Beyond denial we are angry,
beyond anger we are lost in the acceptance of our inevitable
Karma.
Grieve

 --  Angelo Mesisco

from the new issue of the Blue Collar Review.