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View Diary: We are standing at the cusp of the Holocene and the Anthropocene Epochs (65 comments)

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  •  As a geologist I have to disagree. (10+ / 0-)

    Holocene simply means recent-time. That label still applies.

    •  As a geologist I second that (4+ / 0-)
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      annominous, Be Skeptical, dzog, Yo Bubba

      Attempting to breathlessly name a "new" epoch, partly to make a political point about our affect on the Earth, is premature, to say the least.

      Let future geologists, if any exist, look back on this period, consider the scale, magnitude, persistence, and importance of its anthropogenic changes, and make an informed decision based on facts of what has happened, not speculation of what may happen (no matter how certain some may be of what they consider to be inevitable developments).

      •  Now that we get Earthquakes regularly because (1+ / 0-)
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        Fiona West

        of injection wells, it sure seems like we have entered into a new Geological age where I live.

        Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

        by GreenMother on Mon Nov 04, 2013 at 07:17:34 AM PST

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        •  Such earthquakes are (0+ / 0-)

          a vanishingly temporary phenomenon on the geologic time scale.  

          When active injection stops, they will stop.  

          In geologic time, such events wouldn't even be measurable.

          I understand that it may seem significant to you.  But placed in geologic time, it barely exists.

          •  When we replace the ceiling tiles in my dad's (0+ / 0-)

            house and our insurance rates take another hike up, because quakes are new to this area in this form. Then it's very significant to anyone who owns a structure and buys insurance and is responsible for upkeep.

            Don't downplay this just because I won't be alive long enough to measure a scale on a dinosaurs butt. This means something now in this culture and in this financial system.

            We already deal with high rates because of tornadoes and hail. That was our thing. Quakes in California and Tornadoes in Tornado alley.

            Now it's just crazy flung poo every which way, of all kinds, and someone's making money off of it, but it sure as hell isn't me.

            Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

            by GreenMother on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 06:49:49 PM PST

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      •  please allow rhetorical effect (1+ / 0-)
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        to have its due

        •  Right. (0+ / 0-)

          But, as you revel in your rhetorical effect, please contemplate any discomfort you may feel when the right politicizes science by emphasizing minor points having no real significance.

          Is it your position that we should pervert science to suite ideological goals?

      •  Assuming there will be a future where advanced (1+ / 0-)
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        forms and methods of education produce geologists.

        And if it turns out there won't be, wouldn't that be enough proof of having already entered a new geologic epoch?

        "We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."

        - Louis Brandies

        by Pescadero Bill on Mon Nov 04, 2013 at 08:33:34 AM PST

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      •  The name is not at all premature, though it may be (1+ / 0-)
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        only a "working name," like the title an author gives a work in progress.  You said:

        Attempting to breathlessly name a "new" epoch, partly to make a political point about our affect on the Earth, is premature, to say the least.
        The meaning communicated by "Anthropocene" goes far beyond anything that can be called "political," though we hope desperately that the awareness in encodes will influence politics.

        Human beings have many levels of "knowing," ranging from factually correct but superficial awareness to profound knowing that involves intellect, emotion, and memory, taps into instinct, and mobilizes the will.

        Here in the early phases of the Anthropocene, this working title is just one among many efforts to bring the human species to full conscious awareness that can generate intelligent, effective action.  It's a mirror held up to anyone who encounters it, a reflection of the enormity of what the human species is now doing without more than sporadically and partially acknowledging it.

        How we talk shapes what we know, what we feel, and what we do.

        Future geologist (if any) may indeed choose a different name, more useful from their perspective.  And that's great. Good for them.  But this name is useful now.  And it's true.  It's inarguably true.  We are now in the early stages of an era of the Earth that is being profoundly shaped by humanity to a degree that the Earth never has been before.  We're reshaping the atmosphere, the oceans, the boundaries of the continents.  We're initiating a new mass extinction.  We're shaping this era of the Earth profoundly through our human combination of knowledge, skill, organization, chaos, blind instinctive reactions, delusion, greed, generosity, powerlust -- the whole package.  Who and what we are.

        That's the truth.

        And we need to talk about it that way.

        --------------------- “These are troubling times. Corporation are treated like people. People are treated like things. …And if we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now.” -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

        by Fiona West on Mon Nov 04, 2013 at 10:12:09 AM PST

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    •  Although I agree with the political points ... (1+ / 0-)
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      ... this diary makes, it wanders far from actual science. By the same criteria used in the diary, I could declare that the world entered the Dimwitocene when Ronald Reagan was elected president. It's all just rhetorical.

      For us to genuinely enter a new epoch, clear changes must occur in the geological record. We don't have those yet (and won't until long after all of us are part of that record, ourselves). Trying to fit science to political or rhetorical conclusions veers awfully close to the garbage science spouted by the Intelligent Design crowd, Christian Science advocates, and Ancient Aliens conspiracy theorists. I think those of us alarmed at the changes humankind is inflicting upon our planet have better avenues by which to express the immediacy of the danger the world now faces.


      "God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance" - Neil deGrasse Tyson

      by dzog on Mon Nov 04, 2013 at 09:42:02 AM PST

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