Can We Change Faster Than the Climate
An awakening occurred after the Antarctic ozone hole was discovered – the realization that increasing levels of carbon dioxide have the potential to adversely affect many of the ecosystems which support life on Earth.
Introducing: The Anthropocene
Humans’ significant impact, altering the carbon-cycle, and other elemental cycles — such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur — have led scientists to suggest the Earth has moved out of its current geological epoch, the Holocene, into the Anthropocene.
Ep – och — [Noun] — A subdivision of the geological timescale that is longer than an age but shorter than a period.
Additionally, an important clarification must be made. The Anthropocene defines influences regulating the Earth system. The Earth system ideology sees “the Earth that evolves as a totality, as an undefined complex system comprised of the tightly linked atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere and biosphere”. (1) Our epoch is defined due to our activity, which now rivals the forces of Nature in its functional ability influencing the Earth’s ecosystem.
It seems obvious that, as a race, humans need to change our lifestyles to coexist better with the Earth.
Here is where the question arises; is our climate too far gone, or can we still put in the work to help? Obviously, we don’t have the answer nor claim to.
But here is the deal: we are now in charge of an epoch. That’s right. We have an epoch. Pretty cool, right? But it’s also a huge responsibility — one we are completely and utterly unprepared and unqualified for. It would be as if you or I got were plucked out of your job and hired as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve and asked to set quantitative easing policy for the next quarter.
That is what we must do. As a race, we must enact policy to determine the state of Earth’s system.
We clearly haven’t been monitoring the effects of our actions as closely as we probably should have been. Unquestionably, we have made huge impacts on our environment, probably permanently. Hopefully, we can realize that this is not the kind of legacy we want to leave behind. These are not the hallmarks of a thoughtful species.
In juxtaposition, mankind is living debatably more prosperously than any other age of humans if defined by indicators such as lifespan, infant mortality, rising prosperity. Yet, in the midst of environmental degradation, deforestation, ocean acidification and levels of CO2, we must begin to reexamine our position as stewards of this epoch.
Here is the deal: if we begin to anguish over this difficult position we have been put in, we won’t progress. We can rise to the challenge.
1 Bloomfield, M. (2019). Indirection: Global Justice and Climate Change. Global Justice, Natural Resources, and Climate Change