The Anthropocene: An Era of Humans Ruining the Earth

The Anthropocene, as defined by Will Steffen, is “the current epoch in which humans and our societies have become a global geophysical force” and is a driving force behind the earth’s warming climate (Steffen 1). Although it isn’t formally accepted yet, I would accept adding this new epoch to the geological calendar. While the rock record needed for analyzing this proposed Anthropocene doesn’t exist yet, as illustrated by Jan Zalasiewicz, the results will soon be seen through our “building cities… [creating] fertilizer factories, [and] the leveling of the world’s forests” which will all soon show the Anthropocene epoch is a real era (Kolbert). Also, I believe that the Anthropocene epoch should begin now, since humans have been contributing to rising carbon levels in the atmosphere for decades. Put in more concise language, by Mark Williams: “Do we decide the Anthropocene’s here, or do we wait 20 years [when] things will be even worse?” (Kolbert), showing the Anthropocene needs to be accepted now.

Much like we saw in the “Why do Reasonable People Doubt Science?”, Kahan’s argument of people not wanting to go against their social/political groups are very similar. This affects our ability to remedy climate change because anytime something is labeled as a climate change solution, it will be met with opposition even when conversation is direly needed. Kathy Whitlock addresses this problem by taking a simplistic approach with Montanans and showing them the direct effects of a changing climate, like the more frequent floods on the Musselshell river. I also believe this simplistic approach would encourage conversations between different people about climate change. If more people understood how simply put, greenhouse gasses absorb more heat in the atmosphere thus causing the climate to get warmer, they’d be more willing to discuss it and how to prevent it.

3 thoughts on “The Anthropocene: An Era of Humans Ruining the Earth”

  1. I had never really considered how effective it would be to simplify what the effects of climate change are. To me, hearing about the global-scale problems is convincing enough. The point you make is very good though, that people are more likely to respond when they see simple, immediate changes that directly effect them or the people around them, such as the river flooding. People might accept “rising sea level” less than they accept “LA will be underwater in [x] years.”

  2. I think you lack a little clarity when you say “the Anthropocene epoch should begin now.” Are you saying that the understanding of when the era began is right now? because that is the impression it gives.

    Personally, I fall more in line with (Steffen?) at least going back to the industrial revolution when we had the sudden uptick in CO2 production as well as population.

    I think an idea of overlook in terms of talking to people about science they don’t believe in is how TRUELY tied that ‘not believing’ can be to their character an social status, making them understand that it is happening is the goal, but there are so many emotion boundaries to overcome before we even get to the ‘explaining things in simplistic terms’ part of the narrative.

    also- on a back note after I’ve just been a bit rude, I actually like how you incorporated quotes. I’ve been too lazy this semester, but kudos.

  3. I like the fact that you incorporated the previous “Why Do So Many Reasonable People Doubt Science” article into your second paragraph. I think the reasons outlined in that article fit well with the topic of climate change; after all, the government, which is the most powerful force in regards to mitigating climate change, is also extremely polarizing and unlikely to find compromises even on scientific issues which should remain unpolitical. I agree that putting the effects on the environment in simple, understandable terms will lead to more progress and encourage more productive conversation.

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