What is the Anthropocene? It is argued by many to the be current epoch in which we find ourselves. It is the age of human destruction, the sixth major extinction event (see the others here). However whether this really is the current epoch is widely debated, though is done so while plants and animals die on an unprecedented scale. It needs a snappy title and a set date. Apparently.
So here it is. The word Anthropocene comes from Greek, anthropo meaning “human” and cene meaning “new”. Though of course there’s nothing ‘new’ about what we’re doing. We have just got better at it, killing animals I mean. Not necessarily a bad thing given where it’s got us. But anyway, when does this epoch start? If I went into that I’d be a hypocrite given I just said how ridiculous wasting time defining it but…
If accepted this would see us move out of the Holocene period, a period marked by the warming of the climate, the retreat of glacial caps, to an age marked by the destruction of Earth by humans. An age where the warming of the climate and the retreat of glacial caps is primarily caused by humans. An age we already know we are in really, but it would be nice to give it a name. Honestly, it deserves its own title. My issue however is that it seems too much time may be being spent defining something we already know to exist. Huge rates of extinction, the collapse of ecosystems worldwide and an arguable irreversible change to climate are just some of the characteristics of recent times, facts repeated across various media outlets.
Sure the number of extinctions since the Industrial Revolution increased significantly, but there has been a huge cascade of extinctions for the last 40,000 years (and earlier!). The rise of agriculture also saw a sweeping wave of extinctions across the world. The Anthropocene started a long time ago, there seems little doubt of that. The issue isn’t when it occurred but how do we end it?
So what can we actually do? This blog aims to cover most of these areas (some seen below) and attempts to measure exactly how damaging certain human practices have been and continue to be. What are the major causes of all this destruction and what can be done? If anything? A good place might be last blog post, on the effects of the British diet on the world (see here).