“Anthropocene”. I first encountered this term back in 2003 in my Geology and Biology class when we were discussing different epochs. Two words popped out of my mind upon hearing the word: human civilization, and climate change. Last night’s podcast could have possibly confirmed these two.
Anthropocene started when varieties of snails in Italy die, leaving only one species of snail to dominate the area. This was a sign of the rise of industrialization and humanity’s global impact, unbalancing global ecology. The term anthropocene was described in geologic nomenclature (as the term was first proposed to the Stratigraphy Commission of the Geologic Society of London to be adopted as a legitimate geologic division) as a period when humans have completely harnessed its influence in the world, controlling world’s resources. And we see it everyday: as more and more humans are born and human society’s become more established, as cities and megacities are built, we produce more waste, and exploit a lot of finite resources. Ergo, thousands of animal species become extinct every year, or around 3 species per day. Just last month, the last of Rabb’s fringed-limb tree frog died, wiping its entire species off the planet. When agriculture started in the US, 7,000 varieties of apple can be found, but since only 100 species are commercially grown for human consumption, the other 6,900 species will most likely to go extinct in the next 25 to 50 years.
It’s interesting and somewhat disturbing to think that as we engage passionately on human affairs, we devoid ourselves from doing something to save ourselves from an impending extinction. Many scientists are predicting another great extinction is at hand, but contrary to the mysterious extinction of the dinosaurs during the Cretaceous – Tertiary period, this next great extinction is certainly human-made. More than the increasing threat to a global nuclear war between Russia and the US, storms become more treacherous and natural calamities become far worse than ever. It is Nature finding its way to bring back its balance.
As the podcast ended, I wondered what would be the next epoch after Anthropocene, or whether we are still here to define that next epoch. It may probably be the end of the world in the next 100 years or so, I will never know.”There is too many of us,” as Jane Goodall would put it, suggesting that we should find a way to reduce the number of people in the world. It’s a scary thought, but it makes sense, unless we start figuring out how to balance this power that we have as humans with Nature. Governments must begin to plan way ahead, similar to how the Norwegian government is collecting seeds from around the world and keep it at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. We need begin to mind the world we live in and live harmoniously as part of the global ecology.
We already are at the last few minutes before Earth’s time strikes 12. We don’t have much time left.