Over the past 50 years, humans have changed the world’s ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any other comparable period in human history.
What researchers in a new Ambio paper are calling 'The Great Acceleration', stage 2 of the Anthropocene epoch, leads to questions how humankind will react in stage 3 - defined as the recognition that human activities are indeed affecting the structure and functioning of the Earth System as a whole.
Increased research and understanding, the Internet, and more free and open societies have influenced humanity to become a self-conscious, active agent in the operation of its own life support system. The new study discusses the three known broad philosophical approaches that address the Earth System; the business-as-usual approach, mitigation, and geo-engineering options.
The business-as-usual approach is based on three assumptions. First, global change will not be severe or rapid enough to cause major disruptions. Second, the existing market-oriented economic system can deal autonomously with any required adaptations. And third, resources required to mitigate global change proactively would be better spent on more pressing human needs.
By the time humans realize that a business-as-usual approach may not work, the world will be committed to further decades of environmental change.
The second approach, mitigation, is an alternative pathway based on the notion that the threat of further global change is serious enough that it must be dealt with immediately and by curbing greenhouse gases. Technology will play a strong role in reducing the pressure on the Earth System. The critical question is whether the trends of dematerialization and shifting societal values become strong enough to trigger a transition of a globalized society toward a much more sustainable one.
The third approach, geo-engineering, involves purposeful manipulation by humans of global-scale processes with the intention of counteracting human-driven environmental change. Geo-engineering solutions raise serious ethical questions and intense debate, such as when unintended and unanticipated side effects of the solutions have severe consequences.
According to the report, The Great Acceleration is reaching criticality. Enormous challenges confront humanity in the next few decades as we pass through the bottleneck of continued population growth, excessive resource use, and environmental deterioration. In most parts of the world, the demand for fossil fuels overwhelms the desire to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Whatever unfolds, the next few decades will surely be a tipping point in the evolution of the Anthropocene.
Article: The Anthropocene: Are Humans Now Overwhelming the Great Forces of Nature?, Will Steffen, Paul J. Crutzen and John R. McNeill, Ambio, Volume 36, Issue 8 (December 2007)
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Kudos To "The Independent" Newspaper For Debunking Nibiru "Blood Moon" Hoax
- USDA Microbiologist Warns Bacteria In Vaping Products May Be A Health Concern
- Your Microbiome Did Not Cause Your Weight Problem
- Control Cancer By Making The Tumor Cell Environment Hostile
- Gödel,Frenkel, Kurzweil, and Hawkins on AI
- A Great Blitz Game
- Beekeeping Fad And The Stress Of Traveling Is Harmful To Bees
- "No im not the same person im petrified mr walker literally petrified i just wish i could debunk..."
- "Just to say, another Nibiru is a hoax short article from International Business times, reporting..."
- "Hi - are you are the same anonymous as the one who says you saw a white thing through your bus..."
- "Its very much real mr walker and im scared to death now and i mean really really scared ..."
- "Great, glad to hear it and thanks for signing the petition :)...."
- Breast Cancer: Genomics May Show Where Chemo Might Not Be Needed
- Gallup Poll: Great Example of How to Bias a Social Science Study
- Another Kardashian Craze Debunked
- Fad Friday: Ditch The Body Wrap!
- Commonly Cited Stat of 10 Bacteria for Every 1 Human Cell Is Wrong
- Why The EpiPen And Other Generic Drugs Are So Expensive
- Activity tracker uses heart rate to personalize amount of exercise needed to prevent death
- Moderate physical activity linked with 50 percent reduction in cardiovascular death in over-65s
- 20 cent school intervention stops unhealthy weight gain in children
- Low socioeconomic status associated with higher risk of second heart attack or stroke
- Smartphone detects atrial fibrillation with existing hardware