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Monday, January 28, 2008

Anthropocene Epoch


Humans have altered Earth so much that scientists say a new epoch in the planet's geologic history has begun.

Say goodbye to the 10,000-year-old Holocene Epoch and hello to the Anthropocene. Among the major changes heralding this two-century-old man-made epoch:

* Vastly altered sediment erosion and deposition patterns.
* Major disturbances to the carbon cycle and global temperature.
* Wholesale changes in biology, from altered flowering times to new migration patterns.
* Acidification of the ocean, which threatens tiny marine life that forms the bottom of the food chain.

This is cool. Humans have so altered the earth that we get our own Epoch. What's strange about this article is that it describes this shift in a way that connotes concern and alarm.

I would add to the above list the following:

* Human life expectancy at all time highs
* Infant mortality at an all time low
* So much food that obesity is a medical problem
* People do such little manual labor that they pay fees to others to lift their weights and run in their gyms
* Can travel anywhere in the world in less than a day
* Can travel to other planets
* Higher education available to everybody independent of class
* Communication with anyone anywhere in the world instantaneous
* Ability to create lavish cities in previously uninhabitable areas (see Las Vegas)
* Periodic plagues that wipeout over 1/3 of the population pretty much eliminated
* Cures, vaccinations and transplants for previously life threatening conditions
* Information, knowledge about virtually any subject available instantaneously
* Recorded music, video and film
* Flourishing arts in every conceivable media
* Technology to control temperature such as heaters and air conditioners limit exposure to weather extremes

This is just off the top of my head. It truly is the Anthropocene Epoch...and we should be celebrating it!

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