Evolution and humans:anthropocene future effects (Evolution)

by David Turell @, Saturday, March 18, 2017, 16:42 (579 days ago) @ David Turell

I am convinced biologic evolution is at an endpoint with humans in charge. We can take care of ourselves and solve many disease and hunger problems. Other than asteroids and earthquakes and severe weather we face few environmental challenges. We can nudge asteroids off course and warn about the dangers that we can not stop, but as this article shows we are making a mess of he Earth:

https://aeon.co/ideas/deep-time-s-uncanny-future-is-full-of-ghostly-human-traces?utm_so...

"The Anthropocene, or era of the human, denotes how industrial civilisation has changed the Earth in ways that are comparable with deep-time processes. The planet’s carbon and nitrogen cycles, ocean chemistry and biodiversity – each one the product of millions of years of slow evolution – have been radically and permanently disrupted by human activity.

***

"Deep time represents a certain displacement of the human and the divine from the story of creation. Yet in the Anthropocene, ironically we humans have become that sublime force, the agents of a fearful something that is greater than ourselves. A single mine in Canada’s tar sands region moves 30 billion tonnes of sediment annually, double the quantity moved by all the worlds’ rivers combined. The weight of the fresh water we have redistributed has slowed the Earth’s rotation. The mass extinction of plant and animal species is unlikely to recover for 10 million years.

***

"One of the most chilling traces of the Anthropocene is the global dispersal of radioactive isotopes since mass thermonuclear weapons-testing began in the middle of the 20th century, which means that everyone born after 1963 has radioactive matter in their teeth. The half-life of depleted uranium (U-238) is around 4.5 billion years, roughly the same as the age of the Earth, while that of the plutonium in Chernobyl’s nuclear reactor is 240,000 years. Such timescales resist the imagination, but exist as a haunting presence in our daily lives.

***

"Some 60 billion chickens are killed for human consumption each year; in the future, fossilised chicken bones will be present on every continent as a testimony to the intrusion of human desires in the geological record. Plastics, which began being mass-produced in the middle of the 20th century, give us back the world as the West has been taught to see it – pliable, immediately available, and smoothed to our advantage. Yet almost every piece of plastic ever made remains in existence in some form, and their chemical traces are increasingly present in our bodies. It is ironic that the characteristic ‘new’ smell of PVC is the result of the unstable elements in the material decaying. Although ostensibly inert, like Chernobyl’s ‘undead’ isotopes, plastics are in fact intensely lively, leaching endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Single-use plastic might seem to disappear when I dispose of it, but it (and therefore I) will nonetheless continue to act on the environments in which it persists for millennia.

***

"Humans created 5 billion gigabytes of digital information in 2003; in 2013 it took only 10 minutes to produce the same amount of data. Despite the appealing connotations of ‘the cloud’, this data has to go somewhere. Greenpeace estimates that the power consumption of just one of Apple’s immense data centres is equivalent to the annual supply for 250,000 European homes.

***

"Whereas Hawkes described a land shaped by a combination of geological process, organic life and human activity, we have decisively shifted the balance. But the need to imagine deep time in light of our present-day concerns is more vital than ever. Deep time is not an abstract, distant prospect, but a spectral presence in the everyday. The irony of the Anthropocene is that we are conjuring ourselves as ghosts that will haunt the very deep future."

Comment: We are obviously altering the Earth. Will that alter us?


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