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Author Topic: Exiting The Anthropocene  (Read 552 times)

rboyd

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Exiting The Anthropocene
« on: June 21, 2017, 06:11:25 PM »
The concept of the Anthropocene creates a picture of a relatively tame Earth that responds to the actions of humanity. Within a small band of geophysical variables this may very well be true, but outside that "safe space" the Earth is more than capable of taking back control and sprinting off to some new state. The thought that we could then simply geo-engineer the Earth, as if were throwing a lasso around a horses neck, is incredible hubris.

My image of the Anthropocene is more like someone pushing on a rock that is resting on a point. Within a certain small range the rock can be moved back and forth, that is the Anthropocene. When the rock is pushed just a little too much it accelerates away with a momentum that cannot be stopped by the person that started pushing it.



This concept gets across the fundamentally tenuous position that we are putting ourselves in, and removes the hubris embedded in the current general conceptualization of the Anthropocene. Perhaps we should start thinking about the post-Anthropocene period (the Khaosocene? - the abyss). This is the reality of positive feedbacks and the evidence provided by paleoclimatology.

When those feedbacks kick in we will exit the Anthropocene and once again simply be spectators to the overwhelming power of the Earth's systems.

TerryM

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Re: Exiting The Anthropocene
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2017, 07:37:42 PM »
rboyd
Unfortunately a very realistic appraisal. We'll push hard until nature takes over, then it truly is over.


Whenever I hear of balancing rocks I remember the Boy Scout leader that had his troop toppling balancing rocks in Utah.
What a wonderful organization, what a wonderful state.


Terry

Pmt111500

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Re: Exiting The Anthropocene
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2017, 11:33:25 AM »
It's not often life has morphed the planet to have radically different attributes but this anthropocene is to be one such period. The status quo between the bacterial and fungal decomposers, nutrient producing plants and animals has been altered by a species that can utilize the sort of organic stuff even decomposers have deemed to be waste or even toxic. We might add to the traditional carbon cycle the effect this species has, just like there's room in ecological models for the photosynthetic bacteria and unicellular algae, and the early land plants, which created the snowball earth periods. The unclear reasons for the Permian exctinction event may include also organisms, which would these be is unclear. This time around, the chemistry of earth is changing to hotter temperatures, which could be regarded 'natural' for the species responsible for the warming is of tropical origin. Thus it likes hotter temperatures than earth currently on average has. In doing this the species forces other species to adapt, but it maybe there are species that indeed are already better adapted to hotter and more humid conditions. Thus unexpected changes by other species such as the methanogenic bacteria may be in waiting. This though doesn't change the instigator of these changes.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2017, 01:28:11 PM by Pmt111500 »
A quantity relates to a quantum like camel's back relates to camel's _______ ? (back, vertebra, vertebral tendon, spinal disc, paralysis)

rboyd

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Re: Exiting The Anthropocene
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2017, 07:46:26 PM »
Thanks for your useful comments Pmt111500. My biggest concern is the linkage between the term Anthropocene and the assumption that we can "geo-manage the planet" without end. This assumption has already more than crept into the UN IPCC with their assumptions of massive-scale BECCS and is also being driven hard by those proposing geo-engineering (including Crutzen).

In the period when the Earth System changes are predominantly driven by responses to anthropogenic changes (GHG's, land use etc.) this is plausible, but this falls into a relatively small zone of geophysical variables. It is absolutely unprecedented that a single species has become powerful enough to have such huge geophysical impacts in such a short space of time, properly captured in the concept of the Anthropocene.

What is being lost is the concept that the Earth Systems are capable of overwhelming any efforts to control them by humanity once they are pushed far enough. Humans may have then been the primary instigators, but it will be non-anthropogenic systems that will have taken over control.


crandles

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Re: Exiting The Anthropocene
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2017, 02:47:34 PM »

This concept gets across the fundamentally tenuous position that we are putting ourselves in, and removes the hubris embedded in the current general conceptualization of the Anthropocene. Perhaps we should start thinking about the post-Anthropocene period (the Khaosocene? - the abyss).

Will Anthropocene last long enough not to be considered part of Khaosocene?

There seems to be careful consideration of whether conditions are different enough to be detected to say a new epoch has started. But is it hubris to call it the anthropocene?

rboyd

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Re: Exiting The Anthropocene
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2017, 07:55:14 PM »
I don't consider it hubris to call the current period the Anthropocene, given that humanity has become the geophysical driving force. Humanity has grabbed the control, but the Earth System will grab that control back if we keep pushing. The hubris is in the belief that we could geo-engineer the climate to remain within the human-society sweet spot even after we overshoot the safe zone.

Bill McKibbens vision of "poking the giant" captures this very well.





Forest Dweller

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Re: Exiting The Anthropocene
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2017, 10:57:21 AM »
What most of us describe as the anthropocene, i call the industrialicene.
We concern ourselves about the industrial impact on the living planet 99% of the time and blame humanity.
To a much lesser degree we recognize the impact of a once dominant agrarian society, such as deforestation in Europe.
The problems were still nothing compared to modern day.
To absolutely no degree at all we recognize the fact how hunter gatherers lived for millions of years sustainable and still do, human or not.
The best example being North Sentinel island, which is a pea-sized speck in the ocean but has a estimated history of at least 60.000 years human occupation by hunter gatherers.
We would book a holiday there for it still looks like paradise except they would likely shoot an arrow up your butt.
They are humans, but not responsible for the so called "anthropocene".
They watch our industrial crap wash up on the beaches.
Industry is the dominant force on Earth not humans.
Industrialicene......



sidd

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Re: Exiting The Anthropocene
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2017, 10:03:19 PM »
There is a new paper by Hansen on trajectories for exit from the Anthropocene, where he compares the cost of carbon drawdown vs mitigation. The paper is comprehensive enuf to be a review, and many of the usual suspects are on the list of authors. Apart from it's contents, the reference list is very valuable also.

open access, read all about it.

http://www.earth-syst-dynam.net/8/577/2017/esd-8-577-2017.html

sidd