January 07, 2016
From Holocene To Anthropocene Epoch

Humans are creating a whole new epoch in Earth history. Click thru and read the ways humans are altering the planet.

This isn't about CO2 emissions. For instance, we've created large quantities of synthetic materials and spewed them all over. Consider the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (aka Pacific trash vortex) in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre in the Pacific ocean. Large quantities of floating trash, especially plastics. The plastics are not biodegradable, though they photodegrade.

Industrialization has also expanded the human capacity to drive species to extinction. We've created a far larger land footprint for our structures, roads, farms, and other uses of land. We've become far more efficient at hunting and killing. Our overfishing has reduced the mass of large fish in the oceans by 90%. Fishing yields peaked in 1989.

We need to develop technologies that reduce our footprint and and we need to restrain our excesses. Take overfishing for example. It is bad from a purely economic standpoint because an overfished zone produces less fish. We need to slash fishing globally and give fisheries time to recover. We also need to cut the flow of pollutants and trash into the oceans.

We also need to take steps to stop the human population explosion in Africa. That population explosion is going to wipe out large numbers of species and also create more damage to the surrounding oceans.

Another worry: genetic editing. It will become really cheap and easy to do. Will malicious or just foolish and careless people create variations on species that devastate some habitats? It seems too plausible.

When humans were less powerful and much fewer in number our mistakes and obliviousness counted for less. We are becoming steadily more powerful and our mistakes count for more. We've got to become wiser and smarter and handling the world. I'm not sure that we will.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2016 January 07 08:28 PM 

DNA said at January 9, 2016 5:19 PM:

Ummmm. A lot of unfounded claims. You need to cite references that provide proof for all these Claims. Otherwise it's just chicken little.

DNA said at January 9, 2016 5:20 PM:

Chicken little w/o citations

Audacious Epigone said at January 10, 2016 5:10 PM:

Farming the ocean seems like a plausible way to make human marine consumption sustainable. We are past sustainable hunting for all our meat needs on land but farming allows us to far surpass that. Can aquaculture do the same for the oceans?

cancer_man said at January 15, 2016 8:42 AM:

Cool post! It is so retro, as if put up in 1976.

Randall Parker said at January 17, 2016 5:45 PM:

cancer_man, DNA,

I've decided to change my comment policy. I'm going to delete snark, insults, complaints, and anything with little substance. You've been warned.

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