Living in the Anthropocene by Paul J. Crutzen and Christian Schwägerl

A decade ago, Nobel Prize-winning scientist Paul Crutzen first suggested we were living 
in the “Anthropocene,” a new geological epoch in which humans had altered the planet. 
Now, in an article for Yale Environment 360, Crutzen and a coauthor explain 
why adopting this term could help transform the perception of our role as stewards of the Earth.
“The Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs,
but not every man’s greed.”

For millennia, humans have behaved as rebels against a superpower we call “Nature.”
In the 20th century, however, new technologies, fossil fuels, and a fast-growing population
resulted in a “Great Acceleration” of our own powers. 
We are taking control of Nature’s realm, from climate to DNA. 
Changing the climate for millennia to come is just one aspect.
By cutting down rainforests, moving mountains to access coal deposits and acidifying coral reefs,
we fundamentally change the biology and the geology of the planet. While driving uncountable
numbers of species to extinction, we create new life forms through gene technology,
and, soon, through synthetic biology. We infuse huge quantities of synthetic chemicals and
persistent waste into Earth’s metabolism. 
Where wilderness remains, it’s often only because exploitation is still unprofitable.
Conservation management turns wild animals into a new form of pets.

It’s no longer us against “Nature.”
Instead, it’s we who decide what nature is and what it will be.

To master this huge shift, we must change the way we perceive ourselves and our role in the world.
Students in school are still taught that we are living in the Holocence,
an era that began roughly 12,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age.
But teaching students that we are living in the Anthropocene, the Age of Men,
could be of great help. The awareness of living in the Age of Men could inject
some desperately needed eco-optimism into our societies.

More details from this article;

The skull of the young male Australopithecus sediba rests near the spot where he died.
Photographed by Brent Stirton
(Photo found on  http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/08/malapa-fossils/stirton-photography)

1 comment:

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