What the Word Anthropocene Means for Environmentalism

by dylan.grieve on October 4, 2016 - 8:47pm

Understanding the direct human impact of climate change, environmental degradation, habitat lose or whichever specific environmental term you wish to use can be difficult. Placing blame on the flow of the earth often provides an easy scapegoat for skeptics, as it is much easier to turn a blind eye to extremely complex issues such as this rather than dealing with them.
Emily Chung of CBCnews discusses the introduction of will hopefully become a new era or epoch of the earth, the Anthropocene, which may offer a forward step in understanding this complex issue and force us to face it head on. Epochs make up the history of our earth physical history, these periods of time usually last in the proximity of two million years, the changes from one epoch to another are usually characterized by major changes to the plant; the extinction of dinosaurs being one example. Scientists are now presenting the idea that human existence has created a new epoch beginning around the mid-20th century. Although skepticism is still apparent about the suggestion of a new era, scientists have presented markers of human impact in the form of visible evidence that will be found by future geologists that directly reflect human activities. Entering into this new era isn’t official yet though. The group working on making it official still needs to decide exactly when the Anthropocene began, decide what and where they will formally place a marker down, and finally they need to present their argument to the International Commission of Stratigraphy and have them accepted it.
I think the official marking of this new epoch is a huge step forward in the right direction towards solving climate change. Currently climate change presents the global population with a wicked problem. A wicked problem is one that that seemingly cant be solved but affects everyone on earth in some way or another, the solutions aren’t correct or incorrect, everyone has a different view on the issue and there is massive uncertainty regarding the issue. I think by officially entering into a new epoch it takes away a lot of that uncertainty away and rather than issues being looked at as local and easy to blame on individual actors it forces people to stand under one umbrella and face the issue at hand. It will also allow scientists and policy makers to focus their efforts on solving the issue rather than having to time and time again explain and research if there is an issue to begin with.
It is also frightening to think that one of the last epochs ended with an asteroid hitting the earth and causing the extinction of almost all-living life. This is frightening as by entering into a new epoch we are in essence saying that humans are the main or only cause of such drastic changes that we are seeing today. Although this is a frightening idea it may be the push the general public needs in order to make the necessary changes need to combat climate change and other related issues.

Chung, E. (2016, January 7). A new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, has begun, scientists say. CBCnews.