The Anthropocene, Who Is To Blame?

I first became aware of the term “Anthropocene” about four years ago. It was a lot to wrap my head around at first, because I had always associated geological time scales as being ancient, and immune to human interference. It is simply stunning that one species, over the course of a few thousand years, can have such a profound impact on the environment and the Earth’s geological processes. 

I liked the point brought up in the introduction about how naming this current geological epoch after ourselves is a little arrogant. Though, none of the alternative names mentioned at the end of the introduction really intrigued me much, so I guess the name “Anthropocene” will have to do. I also liked the point in the introduction about humans being a “weedy species”. With all the talk about zebra mussels and Himalaya blackberry, I think people often forget that humans could be considered an invasive species. If this is the case, then we would certainly be the most destructive of all biological invaders. Everywhere you can go in nature, there is always some semblance of human impact (often times trash), no matter how remote your location. 

In the article “Sustainability”, I thought the story with the language barrier was quite interesting. The idea of a word for sustainability not existing in other cultures is intriguing. It is possible sustainability only exists in English because a word was needed to express the importance of not over exploiting our resources, only because resources were being over exploited on a grand scale. In smaller indigenous cultures, it is possible a word for sustainability has never been needed, because over-exploitation has never occurred on such as grand scale. 

The other article I read was entitled “Leviathans”. It was about how larger institutions, such as the Union Nations and big businesses, are contributing to the Anthropocene. These large institutions promote a sense of shifting responsibilities, to a point where people rarely take responsibility for their own actions. Thus, these institutions should be broken up into many small institutions. The article also argues that encouraging self-responsibility will also help society focus on non-immediate threats, such as climate change, by promoting empathy and a mutual sense of understanding throughout all of humanity.

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