Saturday, August 22, 2015

''Welcome to the Anthropocene," says David Biello in a 2012 essay for the Los Angeles Review of Books

David Biello writes in 2012:

A new literature for a new age, the 'Age of Man'

I LIVE IN A SUPERFUND site. So do you, no matter where you live. Despite environmental laws older than I am and the migration of U.S. heavy industry overseas, the toxic impacts of modern human life touch every inch of the U.S. And it's not just the U.S., it's North America, it's Asia, it's Antarctica, every inch of everywhere really — even the organic detoxification spas across California. Welcome to the Anthropocene, or "age of man."

We move more earth and stone than all the world's rivers. We are changing the chemistry of the atmosphere all life breathes. We are on pace to eat to death half of the other life currently sharing the planet with us. There is nothing on Earth untouched by man — whether it be the soot from fossil fuels darkening polar snows or the very molecules incorporated into a tree trunk. Humanity has become a global force whose exploits will be written in rock for millennia.

We can think of our Anthropocene as a steam-punk thing, only as old as James Watt's invention of a practical coal-burning steam engine way back in 1776. Or we can see it stretch back millions of years to when early Homo sapiens may have driven large carnivores like sabre-tooth tigers to extinction. Still, nothing compares to the Atomic Age, which spread rare, long-lived elements across the planet — a unique human signature. And our mark will remain in the atmosphere for tens of thousands of years, elevated levels of carbon dioxide keeping the planet warmer than it would otherwise be. If people, plants or animals don't like the climate in 2100, 2500 or even 25000 they will have us to blame.

As a writer who covers the Anthropocene, I follow all the talk, and it’s hard to think of another area of scientific inquiry where there is so much doubt, and, in fact, straight rejection, of the proofs we have been seeing. MORE AT LINK:

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