Accepting our Role in the World

The anthropocene is defined as the period of geological time in which humans have had a significant impact on the environment. As Steffen et al describes it, this period of time starts during the industrial revolution, when humans began to use fire to tap into the carbon reserves of coal. Rudiman argues that “the invention of agriculture some 8,000 years ago, and the deforestation that resulted, led to an increase in atmospheric CO2 just large enough to stave off what otherwise would have been the start of a new ice age” (Kolbert, 4). Looking at global climate trends, we can see that the most drastic changes start to occur during the industrial revolution. Considering how drastic and lasting some of these changes have been, I think that any definition of the anthropocene epoch should begin there. Although many might consider the human entry into North America and subsequent extinction of many of the remaining mega-fauna as evidence of significant impact on the environment, it should be noted that a general change in climate in the Americas coincided with “our” arrival in the lower parts of America. It’s not until the mass exploitation of coal that we see far reaching, permanent consequences of of actions that can be definitively tied to human action.

As the Times article discussed, positions on climate science has become tied to political party affiliation. Often, this affiliation has nothing to do with the actual science of the issue. I would argue that climate change deniers take more issue with the more tangible issues of accepting change, that is, the loss of good paying mining jobs or spending money on emissions checks on your car. IN this sense, I think denial is less about fitting in and more about the immediate ramifications. Thats nots to say that people don’t accept or deny it just to fit in, rather that it’s not the only or even main reason, as Kolbert seems to suggest. (Kolbert)