Sunday, May 29, 2011

Welcome to the Anthropocene

The Anthropocene--the human epoch on earth--has begun.  Some scientists believe the name is apt because we are the driving geological force on earth.

Yes, earthquakes and volcanoes can make us blanch, but we're still driving change more than anything else.  According to The Economist, humans and our livestock outweigh all other large animals, and we have made much more nitrogen available to plant and animal life on earth.  The problems start when our plants and animals are done with that nitrogen, and it leaks out into the biosphere.  Or when we worry about the effects of our CO2-producing combustion.

Does it matter what we name this era on earth?  Yes, because we need to take responsibility for all the change we're producing in planetary systems.  We need to apply our engineering smarts to putting some things back the way we want them.  Lower CO2, less free nitrogen, etc.

It's geoengineering, that bogeyman that some want to avoid.  But it's too late, we've been geoengineering for too long to pretend we can fix things without using our technological abilities.

I think the Dire Journal is right, welcome to the Anthropocene.

No comments: