We have been aware for centuries that we are responsible for the earth’s denudation: its ‘cold staring spaces’, as English writer John Evelyn called them in 1706, mourning the trees chopped down on his estate. Around a hundred years later, the Prussian explorer Alexander Von Humboldt worried over ‘mankind’s mischief’, conjecturing that if humans ever ventured into outer space, they would carry with them a tendency to leave everything ravaged and barren. (The closer they resembled man, he also observed, ‘the sadder monkeys look’). ‘Are the green fields gone?’ asked the narrator of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, published fifty years after Von Humboldt’s 1801 diary, as he watched his fellow Manhattanites staring dreamily out to sea. Continue reading
Whether consumers want it is another question, says Jon Fasman
“Tell me what kind of food you eat, and I will tell you what kind of man you are,” wrote Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, a French lawyer and epicure, in the early 19th century. The epigram opens “The Physiology of Taste,” one of those delightfully dilatory, observational works at which his age excelled. Continue reading
Thanks to Sierra for publishing In Pursuit of an Ecological Resilience in the Anthropocene, an excerpt from Alejandro Frid’s “Changing Tides”:
The birth of my daughter, in 2004, thrust upon me a dual task: to be scientifically realistic about all the difficult changes that are here to stay, while staying humanly optimistic about the better things that we still have.
By the time my daughter turned eleven, I had jettisoned my nostalgia for the Earth I was born into in the mid-196os—a planet that, of course, was an ecological shadow of Earth 100 years before, which in turn was an ecological shadow of an earlier Earth. Continue reading
Posts like this one tend to not fare as well with readers visiting our platform. Whoever makes their way here is normally looking for what we normally offer, stories about entrepreneurial conservation. Which we believe can be a winning formula for the challenges at hand. But from time to time, we must acknowledge that the odds look grim.
Two articles, both very well written, about the report warning of the dangers of climate change to the US economy, note that the report is not likely to have much impact. Because of Black Friday? No, because the forces behind willful ignorance have been at it for a long time, with plentiful resources to strengthen their game. This cartoon says more in fewer words than either article on why. Nathaniel Rich’s short essay, dark and stark and alarming, is akin. Bill McKibben, though, once again hits the nail squarely and firmly, and more effectively than news, because of his trench-based perspective:
With wildfires, heat waves, and rising sea levels, large tracts of the earth are at risk of becoming uninhabitable. But the fossil-fuel industry continues its assault on the facts.
Thirty years ago, this magazine published “The End of Nature,” a long article about what we then called the greenhouse effect. I was in my twenties when I wrote it, and out on an intellectual limb: climate science was still young. But the data were persuasive, and freighted with sadness. We were spewing so much carbon into the atmosphere that nature was no longer a force beyond our influence—and humanity, with its capacity for industry and heedlessness, had come to affect every cubic metre of the planet’s air, every inch of its surface, every drop of its water. Scientists underlined this notion a decade later when they began referring to our era as the Anthropocene, the world made by man.
I was frightened by my reporting, but, at the time, it seemed likely that we’d try as a society to prevent the worst from happening. Continue reading
Tapping into a long, intertwined history of “photographers depicting nature with an eye to its fragility”, multimedia artist Justin Brice Guariglia translates his unprecedented access to NASA mission flights to visually quantify what is currently coined the Anthropocene Era.
Readers lucky enough to have the opportunity to view his coming exhibition, at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Fla., from Sept. 5 to Jan. 7 should do so!
Earlier this year at the Telluride Mountainfilm Festival, the artist Justin Brice Guariglia fell into conversation with a stranger.
“I got stuck on a gondola ride with a climate change denier,” Mr. Guariglia said recently. The stranger clearly had no idea who he was dealing with.
Not only had Mr. Guariglia previously talked his way into joining a NASA scientific mission over Greenland so that he could photograph melting polar ice caps. He also had even created a mobile app called After Ice, which allows users to take a selfie that is overlaid with a watery filter indicating the sea level projected in their geo-tagged location in the 2080s.
So when the man on the gondola said the earth’s warming temperatures were just part of a cycle, Mr. Guariglia recalled, “I took off my jacket and I said, ‘Does this look like a cycle to you?’” Continue reading
Thanks to Anthropocene for this summary of a counterintuitive finding:
Thanks to Anthropocene for this summary on agricultural technology possibly breaking through the GMO debate in the near future:
Researchers have developed a new technology that not only increases the yield of wheat plants, but also makes them more resilient to drought. What makes this technology so interesting is that—if successful in field trials—it might provide an alternative to genetic modification approaches to boosting wheat yields. Continue reading
Thanks to Anthropocene for this summary of a scientific news item worthy of our attention:
Anthropocene is back, after a brief holiday break, with a good summary of findings on urban-influenced evolution:
Thanks to Anthropocene:
Many drugs are based on molecules produced by bacteria. Previously, the search for such drugs has mostly focused on “pristine” environments in far-flung locales. But a new study shows that many useful molecules could already be, quite literally, at our feet. Continue reading
Thanks to Anthropocene:
An international competition challenges designers to show that clean energy production and dazzling public art can be one and the same
Since 2010, the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) has sponsored site-specific design competitions, soliciting ideas for public art that generates clean power. Its 2016 contest was the most ambitious yet. It called on designers to conceive of art installations that generate both clean power and water for the city of Santa Monica, California. Continue reading
Each year, coffee drinkers across the globe create six million pounds of waste in the form of spent coffee grounds. Some of us chuck it in our compost pile, but most of it becomes just another garbage disposal challenge. Continue reading
A big part of what we do when we are not adding to these pages involves helping people all over the world plan journeys. We want them to stay in places that we have developed and/or that we manage because we have worked to reduce our contribution to negative anthropocentric travel impacts. There are positive impacts also, of course, including resources flowing to places where they are needed for human development, which in turn increases the likelihood of conservation efforts succeeding.
I was happy to see this newly revamped online publication back in these pages recently, and today as I went to their website I am even more happy to see this amazing article by a writer who was liberally linked to in our first couple of years on this platform. We have enormous respect for Mr. Revkin’s commitment to many of the same things we work on day in and day out. This is a long article, but worth the time and attention:
Big words in the title may distract from the excellent point of this “cosmos & culture” article at National Public Radio (USA), worth a read:
You can’t solve a problem until you understand it. When it comes to climate change, on a fundamental level we don’t really understand the problem.
For some time now, I’ve been writing about the need to broaden our thinking about climate. That includes our role in changing it — and the profound challenges those changes pose to our rightly cherished “project” of civilization. Continue reading
I wrote yesterday about the North American cod stocks that have practically disappeared during the last century as a result of overfishing. Needless to say, this is just one of many species that humans have had a seriously detrimental effect upon in their shaping of the Earth. An article from The Economist this May discusses the geological forces that humans have had on the Earth, focusing on topics like the carbon cycle or nitrogen fixation rather than species extinction.
Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer coined the term “Anthropocene” in 2000 to classify what they see as a new age on the geological time scale, and the fairly abrupt and sharp decline of cod may be one of the many changes visible in the fossil record thousands or millions of years from now. As you can see in the image below, we are currently in the Holocene, but Crutzen and Stoermer, along with many other scientists, including several of those in the International Commission on Stratigraphy (which arbitrates the geological time scale), believe that we have entered an age primarily shaped by Homo sapiens.