Welcome to the Anthropocene
I’m curious to know about the general awareness among typical Americans with this term, Anthropocene. I suppose one could do a formal polling if they had an adequate supply of potential participants. This blog no longer does. So I’ll just guess.
My guess would be that among the general public, probably 20% have heard the term, and maybe 25% of those have a pretty good understanding of its usage and significance. Those numbers will be much higher among the self-selected audience at Land’s Sake–our Earth Day event at Floyd High School on May 5.
In our effort to bring people together to consider our place in the world this new growing season, I’ll hope to guide us towards a grounding, not so much in place as in time.
We’ve been here so briefly. We’ve changed everything–the soils, the land surface, the atmosphere, hydrosphere and oceans. We have created what, in past epochs, was the degree of change in all these conditions brought about by massive world-wide volcanism, sea-floor spreading and continental drift, meteor impacts and like cataclysms. This time, we are the cataclysm.
And yet, in this proposed new geological epoch that may be called the Anthropocene (it is not yet official), there is hope that this one dominant species at cause for most of the negative impacts can, now that we know, now that we have the skills to predict and the technologies to correct, be the best hope for a sustainable future. It is those “hopeful changes” that I want to point towards in my 10:00 presentation.
The last hopeful change I’ll mention is the fact that we are now both aware of and distressed by the distance we have withdrawn from the natural world. This is most apparent in our obese, socially-awkward, indoor-cloistered young people, though it is the fault of our generation that they are so sadly de-natured.
The idea of “nature deficit disorder” is putting the outdoor world back on the maps of many American families and organizations. And it is essential that we do so. I will offer a visual essay Â towards this end.
Nature is far more than a walk in the woods. It is, as I will say “everything between bedrock and the stratosphere that has always sustained our very existence, now no less than when the glaciers first retreated and civilizations took root on the land masses.” Nature holds every biome, every species, every environmental service that even in our ignorance, we depend on for a healthy, functioning and resilient planet.
Through our close-at-hand encounters with nature, we learn to grasp a local land ethic, and beyond that, a planetary ethic. If we do NOT grow quickly in this way, the Anthropocene may become mankind’s biogeophysical epitaph–a brief and lonely layer of plastic deep in the sands of time.
â–¶Â Highly recommended: A Vimeo short film with narration called Welcome to the Anthropocene.Â
I will make my full resource list available here after the Land’s Sake event. — Fred