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Conservation in the Anthropocene Age – David Hall

Posted in Reflections On Science on September 16th, 2016.

There are shadows hanging over Conservation Week, writes policy researcher David Hall, the biggest one caused by the scale of humanity’s effect on the natural world.

Hector's dolphin, Wikipedia Commons.

Hector’s dolphin, Wikipedia Commons.

An excerpt (read in full):

Last month the Anthropocene Working Group voted to acknowledge that a new geological epoch began around the time of ‘the Great Acceleration’ in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Once supporting evidence is gathered, this group will ask the International Commission on Stratigraphy, the official body in charge of geologic time, to recognise the Anthropocene epoch as the official successor to the Holocene.

What makes the recognition of this new age so relevant, is that it forces us humans to admit the scale of our influence.

If our civilisations vanished from the face of the Earth tomorrow, we wouldn’t just leave behind traces for future archaeologists or future palaeontologists to discover, we would leave behind traces for future geologists to discover.

Over the last half-century we’ve created a global sedimentary layer of radioactive dust, plastics, soot and concrete, an unmistakable signal that will pervade the geological record for millions of years to come.

These days, nothing on this planet’s surface is unaffected by human activities. Anthropogenic global warming simply reinforces the point.

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