Anthropocene: the Shrinking of Aral Sea
The Aral Sea in Central Asia was formerly one of the four largest lakes in the world, with an area of 68.000 km2. As a consequence of a massive water diversion project to irrigate surrounding areas it is drying up. Today, not much is left.
The Anthropocene Explosion
Biologically, there is nothing remarkable in the fact that humans are agents of ecological change and environmental upset. All species transform their surroundings. The dizzying complexity of landscapes on Earth is not just a happy accident of geology and climate, but the result of billions of years of organisms grazing, excavating, defecating, and decomposing. Nor is it unusual that certain lucky species are able to outcompete and eventually entirely displace other species. The Great American Interchange, when North American fauna crossed the newly formed isthmus of Panama to conquer South America three million years ago1 is just one among countless examples of swift, large-scale extinctions resulting from competition and predation.
What is remarkable, however, is the stunning speed of human adaptation relative to other species, and that our adaptation is self-directed. From sonar and flight to disease immunity, humans can “evolve” exquisite new traits in a single generation. The Anthropocene represents a catastrophic mismatch between the pace of human technological evolution and the genetic evolution of nearly every other species on Earth. As with many other geological epochs, the Anthropocene has been heralded with a mass extinction, one which is generally accepted to be the sixth great one to occur on Earth.2
Spend Eternity As An Artificial Coral Reef
Coral reefs are suffering degradation from a number of natural and human-induced causes. American company, Eternal Reefs, had a peculiar idea to help preserve, protect, and enhance the oceans’ health.
They offer to their clients the possibility – after death – to have ashes made into a rock to form the base of an “eternal memorial reef” to provide a habitat for sea-life.
Street Lights Permanently Change the Ecology of Local Bugs
Streetlights affect local ecologies for a longer duration, and at a higher level in the food web, than previously thought.
A Net will Collect Debris from Outer Space
After several approaches to junk removal, Japanese space agency JAXA, came up with the idea of a 700 meters long magnetic net, that will be sent out with a special spacecraft. The mesh of the net is made of steel and aluminum wires that collect the junk thanks to electromagnetic force. Once the net is full of debris, it de-orbits and burns up in the atmosphere.
Anthropo-scene #3: Morphing Earth, Piece by Piece
Many still think that Earth is just too big and mighty to be changed permanently by humans. When Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer proposed to introduce a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, they encountered wide-spread disbelief that us little, recently-evolved creatures could act on the longest, deepest time-scale available to describe our planet.
Anthropo-scene #1: From Rocks to Thoughts
This is the first in a 10-part series where renowned journalist and biologist Christian Schwägerl discusses the many ramifications of the concept of the “Anthropocene”.
Paul Crutzen’s idea of a dawning geological epoch shaped by us humans – the Anthropocene – is going viral. Since I presented it at the Next Nature Power Show in 2011, the top guys at the United Nations have endorsed the concept. A group of smart scientists led by Jan Zalasiewicz of Leicester University announced that, by 2017, they will reach a verdict of whether our current epoch will be officially re-named. Many initiatives have started exploring this new way of thinking about humanity’s place in and on Earth. Here our “ride into the Anthropocene” continues. I want take you to 10 places where the human mind, “nature” and technology fuse in this yet unexplored newness.