An Unfit Master: The Failed Relationship Between Sapiens and Terra

When it comes to the formal adoption of the Anthropocene epoch to our geologic time scale, I would vote to accept this proposal as it definitely appears that the scale of humanity’s impacts on the earth are rivaling some of the biggest geologic forces that have been observed in the past. We have deforested vast swaths of land in order to support agriculture and the runoff from fertilizer have causes massive algae blooms in waterways (Steffen). Global warming as a result of our mass industrialization is leading to ocean level rise, to the extent that some islands could potentially disappear in the not-too-distant future [1]. If the criteria for a new epoch is, as Steffen states, a timeframe where the geologic record shows some marked change, then our activities would definitely meet that criteria due to the record-setting levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, the great reduction of biodiversity in terms of plants and animals, especially when it comes to what we farm and eat, and the environmental damage done to the earth by mining and other industries that have scarred portions of the world into poisonous pits and tunnels.  As for when this epoch should begin, it seems sensical to have it start at the beginning of the industrial era, when all of these changes had their beginning.


As for Kahan’s argument, it seems that we face an issue in getting people to accept science, i.e. to make science cool. Hope needs to be offered, and not just proclamations about how we need to stop doing this or that. A focus should be made on communicating climate science to groups of people, much in the same way some organization might do targeted advertising to draw in different people. Dr. Whitlock sort of does this by addressing, or targeting her message towards the residents of Montana. In bringing many of these concepts to the literal place where we live, she is more persuasive compared to someone showing pictures of sad polar bears thousands of miles away.



1 thought on “An Unfit Master: The Failed Relationship Between Sapiens and Terra”

  1. I would agree that a new epoch should be defined with the start of the Industrial era. Though humans have been around for much longer and have left their mark on the planet in many other ways since we came into being, the 1800s and the Industrial Revolution have had the most impact, and industrialization is a metric by which we typically nowadays measure the ‘advancement’ of a country or society.

    You’ve nailed industrialization’s profound impacts on the environment and why it warrants its own distinct time period in our planet’s history.

    I agree that we need to get personal with people for them to resonate more with science and understand the gravity of a situation. Humans psychologically have a hard time emotionally, or deeply at all, responding to statistics, but they are far more willing to take action when it’s personal. To talk about climate change, we need to both explain how it directly impacts the person we’re talking to, and what specifically that person in particular can do in their part to reduce carbon emissions and be environmentally responsible.

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