Sunday, July 18, 2021

A New Geological Epoch

Sunday, July 18, 2021

'That man should have dominion “over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth,” is a prophecy that has hardened into fact. Choose just about any metric you want and it tells the same story. People have, by now, directly transformed more than half the ice-free land on earth—some twenty-seven million square miles—and indirectly half of what remains. We have dammed or diverted most of the world’s major rivers. Our fertilizer plants and legume crops fix more nitrogen than all terrestrial ecosystems combined, and our planes, cars, and power stations emit about a hundred times more carbon dioxide than volcanoes do... We have become the major driver of extinction and also, probably, of speciation. So pervasive is man’s impact, it is said that we live in a new geological epoch—the Anthropocene. In the age of man, there is nowhere to go, and this includes the deepest trenches of the oceans and the middle of the Antarctic ice sheet, that does not already bear our Friday-like footprints.'

~ Elizabeth Kolbert, Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future, 2021

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