The Human Imprint

Humans are changing Earth on a massive scale.

Nothing is made, nothing disappears. The same changes, at the same places, never stopping.
 ― Dejan Stojanović,
The Shape

The Anthropocene is the proposed name of geologic epoch to mark the era when human activities began to have an observable impact on Earth’s geology and ecosystems.

Busy with the ugliness of the expensive success
 
We forget the easiness of free beauty
 
Lying sad right around the corner,
 
Only an instant removed,
 
Unnoticed and squandered.
 Dejan Stojanović

Each year humans:

  • Emit 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide,
  • Produce 60 billion tons of non-biodegradable plastics, and
  • Extract and process innumerable tons of rocks and minerals.

A satellite image of Chuquicamata, the largest open pit copper mine in the world, shows the surface impression of moving, extracting, and processing countless tons of rocks and minerals for over a century.

Chuquicamata
 image: ASTER/Terra/NASA

The Holocene is the name given to the geologic epoch spanning the last 11,700 years since the ice age. Scientists seemed poised to declare the end of the Holocene. We now exist in a geologic epoch of humankind’s making.

We will go far away, to nowhere, to conquer, to fertilize until we become tired. Then we will stop and there will be our home.
 ―
Dejan Stojanović

The consequences of human activities on Earth’s geophysical processes are yet fully realized.
 
 REFERENCES


Originally published at essays.grokearth.com on October 1, 2016.