How Bad Could the Epoch of Human Devastation Get?

National Geographic - March 2011

Last week we wrote about the possibility of humans having a historic worldwide species-devastating impact. Global population growth, along with long-term increasing affluence and the resultant desire for material goods – as well as the energy to power all that stuff, just might be setting us up for unimaginable grief. Not the least of those losses could be related to animal and plant species going under (along with a lot of our coastlines).

            According to the March 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine, the most significant change brought about by human interloping in the natural order of things, geologically speaking, is the alteration of our atmosphere.

            As a result of rising temperature, some species of both plants and animals are shifting their ranges toward the poles. Some species will not survive the warming trend.

            “Long after our cars, cities and factories have tuned to dust, the consequences of burning billions of tons’ worth of coal and oil are likely to be clearly discernable,” says environmental writer Elizabeth Kolbert in the NG article.

            The article goes on to explain how there is a likelihood that the rock record of today will form to show the impact of human behavior. The leveling of the world’s forests will give future “stratigraphers” clues as to what we humans have done. There will be clues left behind about soil erosion. The second part of the historical evidence will be the extinctions caused by deforestation, which are now occurring at levels hundreds or thousands of times faster than during most of the last half-billion years.

            Some scientists are of the opinion that we have not yet seen the beginning of the Anthopocene epoch (see previous blog article), “not because we haven’t had a dramatic impact on the planet, but because the next several decades are likely to prove even more stratigaphically significant  than the past few centuries.

            So if you’re thinking of adding new humans to the seven billion already crowding our planet, don’t you think there are already enough of us?

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