The Anthropocene is a proposed epoch that begins when human activities started to have a significant global impact on Earth‘s ecosystems. The term – which appears to have been used by Soviet scientists as early as the 1960s to refer to the Quaternary, the most recent geological period – was coined with a different sense in the 1980s by ecologist Eugene F. Stoermer and has been widely popularized by atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen, who regards the influence of human behavior on the Earth’s atmosphere in recent centuries as so significant as to constitute a new geological epoch for its lithosphere.
“Anthropocene”, it rings through my mind. Anthro: human. Isn’t it odd, being able to separate, categorize, and shift away through the history of this planet? As if only by saying and acknowledging the existence of something we make it real. Is it a bit like that realization that our brain named itself?
I find it compelling the relationship between human and nature; why were we privileged enough to have a brain that would allow us such a state of consciousness? And why is it that being in this state has made us believe that we can extract, use, waste and claim Nature to be ours? Many may say “Of course not, nature is nature. You can’t own it.” But actions speak louder than words, and those made by our civilization in this last century are screaming; to some extent we do believe in our need of exploiting Nature.
Today you’ll be on your facebook wall clamoring #StopClimateChange #ActNow… and by dinner time you’ll probably decide to buy a liter and a half of Coke because it was only 20 cents more than the 500ml. For this, there are many things to blame. We can go from the inherent flaws of capitalism down to the very bits of individual laziness to change old habits. But one thing we can blame is the toxicity of the mindset of never ending growth (I mean, it is called boom and bust for a reason…).
This mindset and toxicity is what makes me feel helpless. The irony and absurdness of this Anthropocene makes me want to roll my eyes enough to be able to see the insides of my skull. The most “self-aware” of beings on the planet cannot even save themselves.
Years of evolution for this.
Centuries of a stable climate cycle, smudged because we are too many and too selfish to help ourselves.
But “evolution loves death more than it loves you and me”. Earth does not need oxygen in the atmosphere, neither does life. There is no “perfect state of nature”, methanogens would very much like a carbon-filled atmosphere as much as corporations would like to continue with Business As Usual. The Garden of Eden is just a relative paradise, but evolution is absolute; nothing will stop it.
This whole Climate Change thing? It’s not at all a political opinion or position. It’s about your own existence. Acknowledging this is what will determine our civilization’s fate for the next century.
Artwork by Nicola López