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?
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
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