Scientists from the University of Leicester published a research about the impact of human activities on Earth. Humans became the major geological force, signifying the beginning of Anthropocene epoch. We are even changing the energy flows of the planet.
The Anthropocene Phenomenon
The researchers state that we live in the Anthropocene — the epoch, which is characterized by human’s domination over all other species on the planet. Humans are at the top of the food chain. No animal has ever been dominant both on land and at sea before, Science Daily reports.
Professors Mark Williams and Jan Zalasiewicz stated that the level of human consumption of planet’s resources had been continuously increasing over the last centuries. It has reached the extent that it cannot be ignored anymore. The impact that people have on the Earth’s biological system is absolutely unprecedented. It forms a new pattern of energy flow on the planet.
People extract natural resources, cut down forests, pollute water and soil, which leads to the extinction of the whole species of plants and animals. Moreover, humans introduced new genetic materials and engineer animals to suit their needs. Some scientists warn that we may be approaching the sixth mass extinction . There have been 5 major mass extinctions before. We all know about the last one — the dinosaur extinction.
However, it is not the main characteristic of the epoch and it’s not the threat we face today. The scientists point out that the main purpose of their research is to analyze the relationship between Earth’s production and consumption in terms of our future perspectives.
It’s known that we consume more than the planet can reproduce. In fact, we may require the resources of two planets well before 2050.
The scientists underline that it’s important to monitor the gap between our demands for resources and how much the planet can give without destroying the biosphere.
Humanity cannot exist out of the biosphere. Yes, our planet’s ecosystem is highly flexible and is able to recover. But we should not forget that it takes millions of years, which an average human being does not have.
The humanity became an absolutely dominant force, changing the very geological makeup of the Earth. Remember, the guy who made hundreds of millions on the fall of the American mortgage system during the global financial crisis of 2007-08 (see The Big Short) is now investing in water. The seedlings of the future may be already here but we fail to see them.
- People produced enough concrete to cover the Earth with a solid layer.
- The amount of plastic produced every year is enough to wrap the entire planet.
- Over 50% of the land surface is modified by humans to suit their needs.
A formal recognition of the new epoch is expected to happen later this year by the International Union of Geological Sciences, SMH reported. Scientists say that we had entered this new epoch in around 1950. The Anthropocene epoch follows the Holocene, which started about 12 thousand years ago. Without the human influence, the Holocene was supposed to last for another 50 thousand years. If the commission decides there is enough evidence that warrants formalization of the new geological epoch, new standards will have to be set for the science of geology.
The Anthropocene follows the Holocene and the Pleistocene, both being a part of the Quaternary period, which started 2.5 million years ago.