Anthropocene Epoch: The Environment vs Humans

by akramar on October 5, 2016 - 10:32pm

Is it possible that humans have created an era so harmful that its impacts could last thousands even millions of years? The article “Anthropocene: Geologists urge global recognition of new, human- influenced epoch” by Niki Wilson discusses the Anthropocene, which is a highly debated concept that argues that human impact on the environment has initiated a new epoch. The article explains that the impacts of human industrial practices such as increased carbon outputs, remnants of radioisotopes from nuclear testing, and fly ash from the burning of coal have been found in sediment layers. Current human activity, they say, has altered the environment not just for the current generation but for generations years and years into the future. On the contrary, the article explains, not everyone believes society is entering a new epoch. Some believe that there is too little evidence and the evidence that is currently available is not enough.

An epoch can be described as a “particular period of time marked by distinctive features [or] events” (dictionary.com). Our current epoch, the Holocene, began 11,700 years ago and was characterized as “a stable, warm period following the last ice age” (Tracey, 2016). In class we discussed the globalization era that has allowed easier access to foreign resources (Lecture 5, September 21, 2016). Globalization has largely enhanced industrial processes, making sustainable development increasingly hard to implement. (Lecture 5, September 21, 2016). An article by Susan Patterson states that “From 1970 onwards, the world has been in an ecological overshoot; our demand on environmental resources is exceeding the earth's supply capacity” (Patterson). She explains that although our livelihoods have improved, we are no longer living sustainably (Patterson). Given this evidence it appears that it is time to create a new epoch. It is true that when the Holocene epoch began there were humans that were impacting the environment. Nonetheless, it does seem evident that in the last hundred years technological advancements have skyrocketed. We are living in an era where, within large corporations, quantity is valued over quality and everything needs to completed at a fast pace. With mindsets like these, corners need to be cut and value is placed on making the most money. Is current state led resource management helping or hurting us in our pursuit of sustainable development? Do we need a restructuring of our current management systems?

Despite there being cautions ahead, our society feeds its human demands. Humans are doing more harm than good and we are not just hurting our selves, but generations thousands of years into the future. Although this new epoch has not been approved, science and many other contributing factors are providing evidence of the beginning of the anthropocene. Have humans created a new epoch? Would making the anthropocene a new epoch bring more awareness to the degradation humans are causing or are we already passed the point of return?

Article:

Wilson, N. (2016, August 29). Anthropocene: Geologists urge global recognition of new, human-influenced epoch. Retrieved October 04, 2016, from http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/article/anthropocene-geologists-urge-global-recognition-new-human-influenced-epoch

Supporting articles:

Epoch. (n.d.). Retrieved October 03, 2016, from http://www.dictionary.com/browse/epoch

Patterson, S. (n.d.). How Do Humans Affect the Environment? Retrieved October 03, 2016, from http://greenliving.lovetoknow.com/How_Do_Humans_Affect_the_Environment

Roth, Robin. "Lecture 5 Evolution of Canadian Resource Management” Lecture, University of Guelph, Guelph, September 21, 2016.Tracey, J. (2016, August 30). Scientists Propose New Epoch Defined by Humanity's Devastating Impact on the Earth. Retrieved October 03, 2016, from https://www.outerplaces.com/science/item/13187-scientists-propose-new-epoch-defined-by-humanity-s-devastating-impact-on-the-earth

Comments

Despite Humans are doing more harm than good and we are not just hurting our selves, lets not also forget we still have allot of positive people out their. But in general I admire the writers view, I think you did a really good job and you know what you was talking about.

It is true, but I believe human would change to toward good in the future.
What do you think about this?
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jan/07/human-impact-has-pus...

I'd like to start off by saying that I agree with your analysis of the consumer society, the fundamental idea that corners must be cut in order to maximize profit is the largest flaw that I see with our consumer society. I'd also like to address the questions that you posed, by replying that the current technological systems make environmental management possible. It is the lack of action by our governments and corporations that are not allowing us to head down a greener path. For example take the electric car, the technology had been there since the mid 1990's. Oil corporations found ingenious ways to keep control of resources and technologies, the most prominent example is the leasing rights of the Chevrolet EV1 which were not allowed to be renewed due to a massive payout from oil corporations to General Motors, and the cars were crushed when the leases were up. I'd like to know your opinion on this matter as you didn't include an opinion about what can be done about improving green technologies in your blog post.
A link that you can use to inform yourself with the Chevrolet EV fiasco is this great article which outlines the fatal mistake of the General Motors company.
http://www.autonews.com/article/20160920/BLOG06/160919835/why-gm-should-...

Hi!

I find this topic to be extremely interesting, so I thought I'd share my two cents. As far as I know, the concept of an anthropocene was intended to make humanity aware of the extent to which we are impacting the enviornment. Your article points out both the scientific bases for the idea, and the controversy around it, but I think its scientific validity as a term is somewhat beside the point - mainly it is about raising our awareness of our potential. And to some extent, I think it has achieved its end. However, others have deceided to take the term in another context - if you read things like the Ecomodernist manifesto, you'll see that people consider human dominance over nature as a natural next step, and not something that necessarily has to be undesirable. This, in my view, is a deliverate appropriation of the term, and I dislike it. However, I think that using the idea of an anthropocene to generate change is sort of trying to shut the barn door after the horses. It is a recognition of actions that are meant to result in guilt, but that strategy as I have mentioned is not universally successful. More importantly though, either the idea of the anthropocene or current interpretations fails as a way to describe the human relationship with nature, as constructing us as separate entities. If we have so "dammaged" "the environment" that we are now getting an epoch named after us, then clearly we are separate (and likely reprehensible) beings. But I think, further to your final point, that the best way for us to move forward in our relations with nature is to reconstruct our selves as a part of a complex system, rather than a separate entity that can be judged or lauded for bringing nature to heel.