It's Too Soon to Call This the AnthropoceneRoundup
tags: science relevant to history, Anthropocene
Many historians and even some scientists argue that we are living in the Anthropocene, a new epoch charac- terized by the human control of the biosphere. Next year the Inter- national Geological Congress will consider recognizing this name as the latest addition to the standard geological time scales.
My reaction, echoing the Romans: Festina lente. Make haste slowly.
To be quite clear: There is no doubt about the pervasiveness of our interference in global biogeochemical cycles, the loss of biodiversity attributable to human actions—the mass dumping of our wastes; the large-scale deforestation and accelerated erosion of soils; the global extent of pollution generated by farm- ing, cities, industries, and transportation. In combination, these man-made impacts are unprecedented and of a scale that may well imperil the future of our species.
But is our control of the planet’s fate really so complete? There is plenty of counterevidence. Fundamental variables that make life on Earth possible—the thermonuclear reactions that power the sun, suffusing the planet with radiation; the planet’s shape, rotation, tilt, the eccentricity of its orbital path (the “pacemaker” of the ice ages), and the circulation of its atmosphere—are all beyond any human interference. Nor can we ever hope to control the enormous terraforming processes, the Earth’s plate tectonics driven by internal heat and resulting in slow but constant creation of new ocean floor, forming, reshaping, and elevating landmasses whose distribu- tions and altitudes are key determinants of climate variability and habitability. ...
comments powered by Disqus
- Chris Hayes on How Police Treat Black Americans like Colonial Subjects
- 5 Ways to Rebuild Labor and Transform America
- Trump's Praise for China over Tiananmen Square Years ago was a Preview of his Support for Military Crackdowns on the George Floyd Protests
- For the First Time in 30 Years, Hong Kong Will Not Hold a Mass Vigil Commemorating the Tiananmen Square Massacre
- America's New Nihilism
- Why Teachers, Not Reformers, Should “Reimagine Education”
- COVID, Race, and a Pivotal Moment for America
- The Memo: Trump Lags in Polls as Crises Press
- Explaining the Insurrection Act of 1807 and Looking Back on Nixon’s Law & Order Campaign (Podcast)
- Trump Declared Himself the 'President of Law and Order.' Here's What People Get Wrong About the Origins of That Idea