Lake Michigan's Left Coast

Age of Anthropocene, Not Aquarius

These people may be onto something, Lake Michigan's Left Coast, Elizabeth Fagan's blog
These people may be onto something

Feeble efforts since the 1960s and 70s to “save the planet” have always been misguided. They have aimed to perpetuate the current state of planet Earth, to somehow freeze it in time, to make it stay exactly the way it is—or was. But that will never happen. Earth and all its systems and processes are constantly evolving, changing, with changes creating even more changes.

The species Homo sapiens, the most dominant of creatures, believes itself superior to all other species. Furthermore, it tells itself that an even more superior species, or being, or god, bestowed upon it the right to plunder Earth any way it wants. We humans are limited only by our imaginations and abilities.

We congratulate ourselves for inventing ways to utilize what we call “natural resources.” Coal and petroleum derive from plants that lived in the Carboniferous Period (358.9–298.9 million years ago). Our methods of traveling quickly depend on the remains of those ancient forests. Every time we burn fossil fuels, we release the carbon of those plants into our air.

Bobcats are harvested just like corn and cherries
Bobcats are “harvested,” just like corn and cherries

We choose the species we want to live in our homes and die for our meals. We have many words for killing, depending on the what and/or how: “exterminating”, “slaughtering,” “fishing,” “hunting,” and so on, the latter two of which some call sport, warm and fuzzy things we do with our children. Killing nondomestic animals is called “harvesting,” as if spilling their blood is equivalent to picking cherries.

We have so insinuated ourselves into Earth’s functions that scientists renamed geologic time after us. We are now in the Anthropocene, an epoch influenced by humans, anthropogenic, based on overwhelming global evidence that we have profoundly altered atmospheric, geologic, hydrologic, biospheric, and other Earth systems and processes. The Anthropocene began about 10,000 years ago, or about 8000 BC, at the end of the last glacial period.

In the Arctic, the most urgent issue is the fate of permafrost, the erstwhile always-frozen ground that underlies much of the region. Starting just a few feet below the surface and extending tens or even hundreds of feet down, permafrost contains vast amounts of carbon. Worldwide, permafrost is thought to contain about twice as much carbon as is currently in the atmosphere, and it is melting at alarming rates. Now is a good time to read up on “runaway greenhouse effect.” It explains why climate change is manifesting sooner than we thought. Google it.

Instead of the Age of Aquarius and whatever peace and love it may have involved, Homo sapiens has created the Anthropocene, an age bearing the terrifying consequences of man’s dominion over planet Earth.

2017 hurricanes, Lake Michigan's Left Coast, Elizabeth Fagan's blog
2017 hurricanes, Lake Michigan’s Left Coast, Elizabeth Fagan’s blog

Take hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Katia, for example.


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