View Poll Results: Has mankind affected the world so much that we can say its a new epoch?
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March 27th, 2010, 09:36 PM #1
Its been suggested that mankind has damaged, or modified the earth so much over the last 2 centuries, that we have caused a New Epoch - the Anthropocene era - complete with a Mas extinction event .
The Dawn of a New Epoch?
March 26, 2010
(PhysOrg.com) -- Geologists from the University of Leicester are among four scientists- including a Nobel prize-winner - who suggest that the Earth has entered a new age of geological time.
The Age of Aquarius? Not quite - It’s the Anthropocene Epoch, say the scientists writing in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. (web issue March 29; print issue April 1)
And they add that the dawning of this new epoch may include the sixth largest mass extinction in the Earth’s history.
Jan Zalasiewicz and Mark Williams from the University of Leicester Department of Geology; Will Steffen, Director of the Australian National University’s Climate Change Institute and Paul Crutzen the Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist of Mainz University provide evidence for the scale of global change in their commentary in the American Chemical Society’s’ bi-weekly journal Environmental Science & Technology.
The scientists propose that, in just two centuries, humans have wrought such vast and unprecedented changes to our world that we actually might be ushering in a new geological time interval, and alter the planet for millions of years.They say technology slows down for no one. I know it outruns my wallet. I figure its because my wallet isn't light enough yet.
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dulce bellum inexpertis
March 27th, 2010, 09:43 PM #2
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- Mar 2010
Hmm... I think we're right on the brink. It's an interesting concept, I'm just not sure if we're quite that far yet.
I think my main qualifier would be that if humankind suddenly ceased to exist tomorrow, what state would the planet be left in? Lots of species would also leave their homes/burrows/whatever behind, so I don't really think our cities count, not entirely. Yes, human cities are larger than anything ever seen on this planet, but they too would break down over time and return to nature.
I guess I'm just not sure? I think I'd need to do some more traveling before I'm qualified to answer that question.
March 27th, 2010, 11:58 PM #3
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I'll say yes. We've beavered the entire planet and the artifacts would show up if we ceased to exist tomorrow and an alien civilization scanned the planet a hundred thousand years from now.Good job, friend-of-friends!
March 28th, 2010, 12:17 AM #4
Defined by a mass extinction event, yes. That is certainly irreversible damage that we have caused. But as for actual, physical damage to the planet...
Imagine Earth without people - environment - 12 October 2006 - New Scientist
It's a neat article. I've posted a synopsis of it below.
200,000 years for all trace of Man to vanish from the Earth - Times Online
IF MAN were to vanish from the face of the Earth today, his footprint on the planet would linger for the mere blink of an eye in geological terms.
Within hours, nature would begin to eradicate its impact. In 50,000 years all that would remain would be archaeological traces. Only radioactive materials and a few man-made chemical contaminants would last longer — an invisible legacy.
Homo sapiens has managed just 150,000 years on Earth, and his earliest — debatable — ancestor only six million. By contrast, the dinosaurs populated the planet for 165 million years.
Man’s environmental footprint would, according to a report in New Scientist, begin to deteriorate almost immediately, with light pollution the first to go as power stations ceased to provide energy.
By tomorrow, street lights and house lights left on by their former occupants would start to go out.
Streets and cultivated fields would be the next to go. Within 20 years village streets and rural roads would have vanished under a matting of weeds; fields would be overgrown within months. Urban streets would take a little longer, but even in huge man-made sprawls, such as London and Birmingham, plants would have taken over in about 50 years.
Buildings would decay rapidly. Wooden structures would collapse first, assaulted by bugs and grubs. All such homes would be gone in a century.
Glass and steel tower blocks that create city skylines would mostly fall down within 200 years. Brick, stone and concrete structures would last longer. With exceptions — the pyramids are already 3,000 years old — by the next millennium there would be little more left than ruins.
“If tomorrow dawns without humans, even from orbit the change will be evident almost immediately,” Bob Holmes, of New Scientist, said. “With no-one to make repairs, every storm, flood and frosty night gnaws away at abandoned buildings and within a few decades roofs will begin to fall in and buildings collapse.”
Ronald Chesser, of Texas Tech University, said: “The most pervasive thing you see are plants whose root systems get into the concrete and behind the bricks and into door frames and so forth and are rapidly breaking up the structure.”
Wildlife would thrive in the absence of Man. Most of the 15,589 threatened species will begin to recover immediately towards historical populations.
Carbon dioxide emissions wouldcontinue to cause climate change for another 100 years, but after 1,000 years all would be back to pre-industrial levels, with all man-made traces vanishing in 20,000 years.
However, the most radioactive of untreated nuclear waste would not be safe for up to two million years, John Large, an independent nuclear consultant, said. Man-made chemicals, especially perfluorinated types, would not break down for up to 200,000 years, although it is thought that they would have been buried long before then.
If, 50,000 years hence, an alien archaeologist were to land on an Earth without Man, it might be quite frustrated by the paucity of evidence that we were here at all.
March 28th, 2010, 12:20 AM #5
One point of contention with that article though... I think that some landfills will be around until geological forces reshape the land that contain them. They are relatively well protected from any natural forces of remediation otherwise.
March 28th, 2010, 01:12 AM #6
Every day is a "New Epoch" Don 't you watch Glen or Rush ?????
Seriously, I think the human race has entered the " Last Epoch".
The sky hasn't fallen yet, but it's coming.. Say Hallelujah. Amenhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOtab0BKOGY
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