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posted by hubie on Monday March 25, @01:21PM   Printer-friendly

Scientists argued that mankind had been reshaping the planet long before the 1950s:

A top panel of geologists has decided not to grant Anthropocene, or 'human age', its own distinct place in Earth's geological timeline after disagreeing over when exactly the era might have begun.

After 15 years of deliberation, a team of scientists made the case that humankind has so fundamentally altered the natural world that a new phase of Earth's existence – a new epoch – has already begun.

Soaring greenhouse gases, the spread of microplastics, decimation of other species, and fallout from nuclear tests – all were submitted as evidence that the world entered the Anthropocene in the mid-20th century.

But the proposal was rejected in a contentious vote that has been upheld by the International Union of Geological Sciences, the field's governing body said in a statement published on its website on March 21.

[...] Despite this, the Anthropocene would endure as a widely used term: "It will remain an invaluable descriptor of human impact on the Earth system," the union said.

In 2009 scientists began an enquiry that ultimately concluded that the Holocene epoch – which began 11,700 years ago as the last ice age ended – gave way to the Anthropocene around 1950.

They gathered a trove of evidence to show this, including traces of radioactive material found in the layered sediment of lakes, the global upheaval of plants and animals, and omnipresent "forever chemicals".

But opponents argued mankind had been reshaping the planet long before the 1950s, pointing to defining moments like the advent of farming and the industrial revolution.

[...] "I feel this has been a missed opportunity to recognise and endorse a simple reality, that our planet left its natural functioning state in the mid-20th century," Dr Head, a professor of earth sciences at Brock University in Canada, told AFP.

There was no disagreement that 'the age of man' had resulted in profound planetary changes, said Dr Erle Ellis, an environmental scientist critical of the Anthropocene proposal.

But scientists weren't convinced this impact represented an epoch, no less one that definitively began only seven decades ago, said Dr Ellis, professor of geography and environmental systems at the University of Maryland.

"The truth is, there was never a need for a firm boundary. It just wasn't the critical thing," he told AFP earlier this month after the proposal was first voted down.

Previously:
    • Human Made Materials Now Outweigh Earth's Entire Biomass
    • Anthropocene Angst and Godzilla's Growth
    • The Latest Chapter in Earth's History: The Meghalayan Age
    • For the Second Time, We Are Witnessing a New Geological Epoch: The Anthropocene


Original Submission

Related Stories

For the Second Time, We Are Witnessing a New Geological Epoch: The Anthropocene 30 comments

11,700 years ago, the Earth suffered a catastrophic climate change. As the ice age ended, sea levels rose by 120 meters, the days grew warmer, and many kinds of plant and animal life died out. But one animal began to thrive more than ever before. Homo sapiens, which had already spread to every continent except Antarctica, came up with a new survival strategy. Today, we call it farming.

Thanks in part to that innovation, humans survived to witness the dramatic transition from the Pleistocene epoch to the Holocene—it was the first such geological transition in almost 2 million years. But now geologists say we're witnessing another transition, as we move from the Holocene into an epoch called the Anthropocene. Here's what that means.

[Continues...]

The Latest Chapter in Earth's History: The Meghalayan Age 8 comments

Welcome to the Meghalayan Age - a new phase in history

The official history of Earth has a new chapter - and we are in it. Geologists have classified the last 4,200 years as being a distinct age in the story of our planet. They are calling it the Meghalayan Age, the onset of which was marked by a mega-drought that crushed a number of civilisations worldwide.

The International Chronostratigraphic Chart, the famous diagram depicting the timeline for Earth's history (seen on many classroom walls) will be updated. It should be said, however, there is disquiet in the scientific community at the way the change has been introduced. Some researchers feel there has been insufficient discussion on the matter since the Meghalayan was first raised as an idea in a scholarly paper [DOI: 10.1002/jqs.2565] [DX] six years ago.

[...] The Meghalayan, the youngest stage, runs from 4,200 years ago to the present. It began with a destructive drought, whose effects lasted two centuries, and severely disrupted civilisations in Egypt, Greece, Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, and the Yangtze River Valley. It was likely triggered by shifts in ocean and atmospheric circulation. The Meghalayan Age is unique among the many intervals of the geologic timescale in that its beginning coincides with a global cultural event produced by a global climatic event, says Stanley Finney, professor of geological sciences at Long Beach State University and Secretary-General of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), which ratified the ICS proposal.

The middle phase of the Holocene will be referred to as the Northgrippian, and runs from 8,300 years ago up to the start of the Meghalayan. The onset for this age was an abrupt cooling, attributed to vast volumes of freshwater from melting glaciers in Canada running into the North Atlantic and disrupting ocean currents. The oldest phase of the Holocene - the exit from the ice age - will be known as the Greenlandian.

Scientists are still working on defining the (ongoing) Athropocene and some have criticized this new definition.

Related: For the Second Time, We Are Witnessing a New Geological Epoch: The Anthropocene
Crystals Win in the Anthropocene: 208 Manmade Minerals Identified
Anthropocene News: Scientists Warn of "Sixth Mass Extinction", the Era of "Biological Annihilation"


Original Submission

Anthropocene Angst and Godzilla's Growth 16 comments

A recent article explores Godzilla's physical growth over his big screen career (the longest in world cinema history).

Godzilla was born out of climate change in his native deep sea environment caused by nuclear testing at the Bikini Atoll in the 1950's and quickly rose to prominence on the big screen becoming the lead actor in a series of movies that continues to this day. The supersized saurian was finally granted citizenship in his longtime stomping grounds four years ago and employed as a "tourism ambassador."

Gozilla's rise in film has been accompanied by amazing physical growth at a rate 30 times faster than any creature on Earth.

When the dinosaur-like monster debuted on the silver screen in 1954, he stood a towering 164 feet (50 meters) tall. Now, 35 films later — the latest, "Godzilla: King of the Monsters," came out Friday (May 31) — the behemoth has more than doubled in size, currently reaching 393 feet (120 m) tall.

Researchers explored and dismissed various causes for this growth, including speculation that:

Human Made Materials Now Outweigh Earth's Entire Biomass 33 comments

Human Made Materials Now Outweigh Earth's Entire Biomass

While the natural world continues to shrink, the 'anthropogenic mass' – the mass of all human-made materials created since the Industrial revolution, including houses, cars, roads, and aeroplanes – has grown. Indeed, the number of so-called technospecies has far surpassed the estimated 9 million biological species on the planet, according to a new groundbreaking study published on 10 December in the journal Nature.

[...] The new findings support recent calls to recognise a new epoch called the Anthropocene to account for the profound impacts of human activity on the Earth.

[...] At the beginning of the 20th century, the mass of human-produced objects was equal to about 3 per cent of the world's total biomass but in 2020, has reached about 1.1 teratonnes, exceeding overall global biomass. Moreover, this dramatic increase in human constructions has been accompanied by significant losses in biomass. Humanity has roughly halved the mass of plants since the first agricultural revolution, the authors say.

Journal Reference:
Emily Elhacham, Liad Ben-Uri, Jonathan Grozovski, et al. Global human-made mass exceeds all living biomass, Nature (DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-3010-5)

Where do we go from here?

See also: CNN and xkcd.


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2, Troll) by Username on Monday March 25, @01:47PM (14 children)

    by Username (4557) on Monday March 25, @01:47PM (#1350256)

    I don't know if there is a term for it, but all the climate activists seems to believe the earth had a static unchanging environment before humans came about. I call this static earth theory.

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by hendrikboom on Monday March 25, @02:16PM (4 children)

      by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 25, @02:16PM (#1350257) Homepage Journal

      No, the earth has not been static, and species have come and gone for a long, long time.
      What we want to avoid is it becoming toxic to *us*. It's personal.

    • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday March 25, @04:17PM

      by VLM (445) on Monday March 25, @04:17PM (#1350286)

      They're conservatives. They get really wound up when you whip out the paleoconservative moniker.

      Asking them why is a good time. "Nothing could be better than forcing everyone to live like 15000 BC. Why? Because I say so, of course!"

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by turgid on Monday March 25, @05:20PM

      by turgid (4318) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 25, @05:20PM (#1350301) Journal

      No, they just comprehend that the rate of change back then was many orders of magnitude slower. Life had more time to adapt by evolution.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 25, @07:01PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 25, @07:01PM (#1350311)

      It's unbelievable that the parent comment is modded "insightful" when it is clearly a steaming pile of JFKjr bullshit.

      • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Monday March 25, @07:07PM (1 child)

        by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 25, @07:07PM (#1350312) Journal

        It seems that not everyone agrees with you.

        • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 25, @09:47PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 25, @09:47PM (#1350332)

          To tell the truth, I thought the "Funny" mod was the most appropriate. Or what, was it meant to be taken seriously? Can't believe that... There really are some fanatics out there worth mocking.

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by epitaxial on Monday March 25, @07:53PM (2 children)

      by epitaxial (3165) on Monday March 25, @07:53PM (#1350319)

      It's the rate of change, not the change itself you smooth brain. Here's a handy graphic. https://xkcd.com/1732/ [xkcd.com]

      • (Score: 5, Informative) by julian on Monday March 25, @10:33PM

        by julian (6003) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 25, @10:33PM (#1350336)

        I was about to start looking for the link when I saw you already posted it. Thanks for saving me the trouble. Climate changing over millions of years is normal and well known; everyone who studies science knows this. Changing in a few hundred years due to the actions of a single species is unprecedented and probably unsurvivable.

      • (Score: 0, Troll) by khallow on Tuesday March 26, @01:17AM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 26, @01:17AM (#1350360) Journal
        I see he still hasn't updated that chart with those 0.4 C wide error bars [soylentnews.org] or explained why his graph doesn't show near past temperature variation - there's a 0.2 C bump missing from around 1940.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by aafcac on Monday March 25, @09:31PM

      by aafcac (17646) on Monday March 25, @09:31PM (#1350329)

      I've literally never heard anybody say that who believed in climate change. I mean, for heaven's sake, the same folks upset about climate changing due to people are also people that recognize that the ice age happened and that it's happened more than once.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 25, @02:30PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 25, @02:30PM (#1350264)

    Maybe life on Earth will persist long enough for the surviving geologists to declare the beginning of the Anthropocene.

    • (Score: 2) by aafcac on Monday March 25, @09:50PM

      by aafcac (17646) on Monday March 25, @09:50PM (#1350334)

      Yep, I think that's one of the big issues, geological time is long, and I do mean long, you're generally talking many times the length from the earliest man to us. A time frame that starts with the earliest of our non-ape ancestors is simply too short to be of much use in terms of geology.

  • (Score: 3, Offtopic) by JoeMerchant on Monday March 25, @02:40PM (6 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday March 25, @02:40PM (#1350266)

    Pluto is not a planet, and:

    Istanbul was Constantinople
    Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople
    Been a long time gone, Constantinople
    Now it's Turkish delight on a moonlit night

    Every gal in Constantinople
    Lives in Istanbul, not Constantinople
    So if you've a date in Constantinople
    She'll be waiting in Istanbul

    Even old New York was once New Amsterdam
    Why they changed it I can't say
    People just liked it better that way

    So take me back to Constantinople
    No, you can't go back to Constantinople
    Been a long time gone, Constantinople
    Why did Constantinople get the works?
    That's nobody's business but the Turks

    Istanbul (Istanbul)
    Istanbul (Istanbul)

    Even old New York was once New Amsterdam
    Why they changed it I can't say
    People just liked it better that way

    Istanbul was Constantinople
    Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople
    Been a long time gone, Constantinople
    Why did Constantinople get the works?
    That's nobody's business but the Turks

    So take me back to Constantinople
    No, you can't go back to Constantinople
    Been a long time gone, Constantinople
    Why did Constantinople get the works?
    That's nobody's business but the Turks

    Istanbul

    Because people say so, no other reasons ultimately matter.

    --
    🌻🌻 [google.com]
    • (Score: 2) by Mojibake Tengu on Monday March 25, @03:55PM (5 children)

      by Mojibake Tengu (8598) on Monday March 25, @03:55PM (#1350281) Journal

      That city was originally founded as Νέα Ῥώμη, or Nova Roma. Renamed later to Constantinopolis after some petty narcissist emperor. We central-easterners call it 'Cařihrad' for that reason. Those Turks should stay very prudent so it will not become renamed from Istanbul to Царьград too soon.

      --
      Respect Authorities. Know your social status. Woke responsibly.
      • (Score: 2, Informative) by khallow on Tuesday March 26, @01:23AM (4 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 26, @01:23AM (#1350362) Journal
        it was originally founded as Byzantium (Anglicized name), a Greek colony city sometime around 650-700 BC. It didn't become Nova Roma until Emperor Constantine was looking for a capitol away from home in 330 AD, a thousand years later.
        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday March 26, @05:08PM (3 children)

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday March 26, @05:08PM (#1350452)

          Squatters rights don't count for much.

          Just ask the Cheyenne and Arapaho.

          --
          🌻🌻 [google.com]
          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 26, @10:49PM (2 children)

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 26, @10:49PM (#1350498) Journal
            Rather ask who came before the Greeks. That was the real Cheyenne and Arapaho in this story. The Romans merely were in charge and when the empire broke up in Eastern and Western parts, the Eastern part became clearly Greek in culture and language (though they always thought of themselves as Roman).
            • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday March 26, @11:30PM (1 child)

              by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday March 26, @11:30PM (#1350504)

              History repeats...

              --
              🌻🌻 [google.com]
              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 27, @10:04PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 27, @10:04PM (#1350565)

                Every day...

  • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday March 25, @04:19PM (1 child)

    by VLM (445) on Monday March 25, @04:19PM (#1350287)

    an invaluable descriptor

    Oh, I agree they probably can't assign a value to that. I just suspect it's about zero, whereas they suspect its closer to infinity, because it's their baby.

    "invaluable", um yeah but not like they want to think.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by khallow on Tuesday March 26, @02:10AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 26, @02:10AM (#1350366) Journal
      I think acceptance would have been easier, if they hadn't gone political on it. The whole point of era declaration is to label collections of geological characteristics that one sees in the field or basic lab tests. If you see enormous numbers of crinoids in your rock, then it's not 10k years old, for example. If your rock consists of fossilized sand dunes or tropical forest, then it doesn't come from an snowball Earth era. Eras typically have distinctive rocks, fossils, and climates. In that sense, the Anthropocene is a genuine label just like the rest with detectable chemical changes, human artifacts (coke bottles, plastics), species extinctions, etc.

      But there's a second catch. A lot of distinctive geological features aren't considered eras because they're transition zones and far too short time-wise. For example, the KT boundary where the dinosaurs died or the Permian-Triassic extinction event (worst extinction event on record). The Anthropocene may turn out to be another such - especially if humanity quickly transitions to extinction or something else. It's not likely, for example, that we'll see millions of years of coke bottles. So there may be here a natural reluctance to declare an era when one doesn't yet know what the markers for the era itself will be as compared to the transitional markers of today.

      For hypothetical example, we might be seeing a transition from pure carbon-based life to mostly silicon-based life (with humanity possibly surviving the transition in good order). That latter might be the real Anthropocene Era with the present stuff merely transitory phenomena. In which case, it might be prudent to wait a few hundred or few thousand years to nail down the era.
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by shrewdsheep on Monday March 25, @06:43PM (3 children)

    by shrewdsheep (5215) on Monday March 25, @06:43PM (#1350308)

    AFAIK, traditionally, defining a peleontological era requires a sedimentary record to go with it which forms in millions of years. As such, humans have wreaked havoc on the surface of earth for much to short a period of time to allow for such a record to form. This seems to be a group of attention whores having come up with something to talk about: look I have defined a new era.

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 25, @09:08PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 25, @09:08PM (#1350325)

      Just wait. Eventually Lintilla(s) or other archeologists will be digging to better understand the shoe event horizon and accompanying strata.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Monday March 25, @11:55PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday March 25, @11:55PM (#1350350)

      >As such, humans have wreaked havoc on the surface of earth for much to short a period of time to allow for such a record to form.

      And I would say that humans have wreaked such havoc on the surface of the earth, creating massive sedimentary pockets so distinct from previous epochs to form an indisputable record of our activity, regardless of how short the time frame.

      If Earth encounters 100 years of massive cometary bombardment, that too would create such a mark in our sedimentary record, in an even shorter period of time.

      --
      🌻🌻 [google.com]
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by RamiK on Tuesday March 26, @12:44PM

      by RamiK (1813) on Tuesday March 26, @12:44PM (#1350404)

      traditionally, defining a peleontological era...This seems to be a group of attention whores having come up with something to talk about: look I have defined a new era.

      It's more virtue signal / alarm raising vs. corruption than attention whoring: Geologist are denying human influence on the environment due to making their money off petroleum and mining while the other earth scientists (paleontologists, geophysicists, geochemists, and paleoclimatologists) are all in agreement we're witness a significant enough climate change, mass extinction events and even magnetic pole shifts that the resulting sediments will clearly show as an era.

      Basically, politics.

      --
      compiling...
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 25, @09:20PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 25, @09:20PM (#1350327)

    I think we have to go extinct before anybody can declare that. Or at least we have to become human(e)

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