Support the Arctic Sea Ice Forum and Blog

Author Topic: Exiting The Anthropocene  (Read 2760 times)

rboyd

  • Nilas ice
  • Posts: 1283
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 221
  • Likes Given: 50
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

  • First-year ice
  • Posts: 5762
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 740
  • Likes Given: 5
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

  • Nilas ice
  • Posts: 1916
  • Yes, I do not always bicycle
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 117
  • Likes Given: 40
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 »
Cooling the outside by heat pump.

rboyd

  • Nilas ice
  • Posts: 1283
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 221
  • Likes Given: 50
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

  • Young ice
  • Posts: 2657
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 141
  • Likes Given: 52
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

  • Nilas ice
  • Posts: 1283
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 221
  • Likes Given: 50
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

  • Frazil ice
  • Posts: 138
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 6
  • Likes Given: 32
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

  • First-year ice
  • Posts: 5294
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 585
  • Likes Given: 0
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

gerontocrat

  • First-year ice
  • Posts: 7427
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 2187
  • Likes Given: 24
Re: Exiting The Anthropocene
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2019, 01:27:18 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.

sidd
Will we exit the anthropocene before entering it?

Anthropocene now: influential panel votes to recognize Earth’s new epoch
Atomic Age’ would mark the start of the current geologic time unit, if proposal receives final approval.
Quote
The panel plans to submit a formal proposal for the new epoch by 2021 to the International Commission on Stratigraphy, which oversees the official geologic time chart.

Twenty-nine members of the AWG supported the Anthropocene designation and voted in favour of starting the new epoch in the mid-twentieth century, when a rapidly rising human population accelerated the pace of industrial production, the use of agricultural chemicals and other human activities. At the same time, the first atomic-bomb blasts littered the globe with radioactive debris that became embedded in sediments and glacial ice, becoming part of the geologic record.

They hope to identify a single site to include in their formal proposal. They must also define the type of physical evidence in the sedimentary record that represents the start of the epoch. The group is considering whether to choose the radionuclides that came from atomic-bomb detonations from 1945 until the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963, says Zalasiewicz.
"Para a Causa do Povo a Luta Continua!"
"And that's all I'm going to say about that". Forrest Gump
"Damn, I wanted to see what happened next" (Epitaph)

b_lumenkraft

  • Guest
Re: Exiting The Anthropocene
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2019, 01:56:24 PM »
Personally, i think the question of the atomic bottleneck for any civilisation is a good answer to the Fermi paradox. One of my favourite answers actually.

Every civilisation will discover nuclear energy sooner or later. Depending on the grade of civilisation they will manage to destroy themselves or not.

So if the correct answer to the Fermi paradox is, we don't see aliens because it's a rare thing that civilisations make it through the atomic bottleneck, it strikes me as an extremely positive message for us humans. We made it!

Ergo, i'm in favour of naming it Atomic Age. Quite a message...

kassy

  • Nilas ice
  • Posts: 1196
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 624
  • Likes Given: 490
Re: Exiting The Anthropocene
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2019, 03:04:24 PM »
Whether or not you manage to master space living/planet hopping before you make your homeworld unliveable might be another good answer to the Fermi Paradox.

I don´t think the concept of the current age matters much.

The Tipping Points are more important. We need to err on the safe side because if you miss that there is no going back.

We did regulate the ozone destroying chemicals.

We seem to not be able to do the same for carbon because there is too much money in it. People are ruining the planet for profit. Until that really pisses of the rest we are not going anywhere.

The younger ones do seem to get it and the baby boomers will die out so that might help.
Þetta minnismerki er til vitnis um að við vitum hvað er að gerast og hvað þarf að gera. Aðeins þú veist hvort við gerðum eitthvað.

Shared Humanity

  • Young ice
  • Posts: 4101
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 503
  • Likes Given: 55
Re: Exiting The Anthropocene
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2019, 03:05:21 PM »
If I understand the concept of geologic age correctly, it is when changes on the planet are captured such that it can be identified millions of years into the future through the geologic record. Mass extinctions are one such geologic record. If this is so, the onset of the Anthropocene is several thousand years ago.

Also, exiting the Anthropocene is not synonymous with the human species exiting stage right. It has more to do with the geologic record signally a shift from the conditions imposed by human tinkering, things like atmospheric CO2 which will be captured in ice and soils etc. As such the Anthropocene will come to an end long after the human species has.

As regarding hubris, someone here correctly pointed out that we are not the 1st species to cause this planet to enter into a new age. Some bacteria did it a long time ago. If there is any hubris involved, it is just that the bacteria had no sense of what it was accomplishing and we have an elevated sense of our own importance, a notion which Gaia will disabuse us of soon enough.

b_lumenkraft

  • Guest
Re: Exiting The Anthropocene
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2019, 03:52:33 PM »
The younger ones do seem to get it and the baby boomers will die out so that might help.

I agree. Speaking of tipping points. I think we have entered one. The general public seems to understand, as they did with the tobacco industry, that the fossil industry lied to us. They knew about climate change early enough.

At least i hope this is a tipping point, but recent activities from young people (i.e. Greta, Rezo, et al) underline this hope.


karl dubhe2

  • New ice
  • Posts: 31
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 5
  • Likes Given: 9
Re: Exiting The Anthropocene
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2019, 05:06:15 PM »


So if the correct answer to the Fermi paradox is, we don't see aliens because it's a rare thing that civilisations make it through the atomic bottleneck, it strikes me as an extremely positive message for us humans. We made it!


The nuclear arsenals of at least two nations are still on a hair trigger alert.   An unobserved asteroid hitting the planet could set off a catastrophe, or a simple accident aboard a ship or in a missile silo/nuclear weapons factory could do the same.

We've made it so far...   That doesn't mean we've passed the point at which our survival is guaranteed.   :(   Keep the champagne in the cellar, hopefully one day we can put it on ice and drink it.   :)

b_lumenkraft

  • Guest
Re: Exiting The Anthropocene
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2019, 05:41:21 PM »
Seriously, Karl, i was thinking of writing 'we made it so far...' instead of 'we made it!', but that would have watered-down the intended optimism of my message. You guys being realistic all of a sudden is not nice.  ::)

rboyd

  • Nilas ice
  • Posts: 1283
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 221
  • Likes Given: 50
Re: Exiting The Anthropocene
« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2019, 07:35:08 PM »
We noticed the ozone hole pretty much by accident, so there are so many ways the complex Earth System can be flipped into a state that could end human civilization without us noticing until it is too late. We are currently hammering our supportive ecology from so many directions, a collapse from the cumulative effects is possible.

The bottleneck can be caused intentionally (nuclear war) or unintentionally (destroying the supportive ecology), the problem is the sheer scale and energy/ecology throughput of societies using modern technologies. We become promethean without the processes to save us from our own power.