Human Impact — The Anthropocene
What have we done? What can we do now?
I am a environmental sustainability major and Northern Arizona University. My passion for sustainable development has grown immensely since I started here at NAU. This blog is created to inform people about the impact humans have on this earth. So many of us are unaware of how much we have really altered our planets ecosystem.
If you feel in the dark about our environmental crisis then this blog is for you. I am going to break down the major impacts our consumer based society has on our environment and what we can do to change it.
“Humans go from being participants in the whole earth to a dominant feature.”
Many are unaware that humans have altered the state of the planet so drastically that a many scientists consider the current epoch to be completely transformed by humans. This new epoch is is referred to as the Anthrpocene. The name combines “anthro” (human) with “cene” (the suffix for “epoch”). Unlike other areas of our planet this new area is marked by a biological spices, ourselves. Most epochs last millions of years; however, the epoch we are moving out of is less than twelve thousand years old (Hendry, 31).
“Today we are hearing and seeing dire warning of the worst potential catastrophe in the history of human civilization: a global climate crisis that is deepening and rapidly becoming more dangerous than anything we have ever seen.” -Ale Gore
Effects of Anthropocence
With so many known effects of human existence, it would be hard for me to explain every aspect of this environmental crisis. Some of the major causes of climate change are; greenhouse gases, over consumption, deforestation, agriculture and over finishing and destruction of our seas. I won’t go into details about all of these but here are some alternative resources regarding our over consumption I strongly recommend to everyone.
Seaspiracy is the groundbreaking Netflix Original documentary which seeks to expose the fishing industries impact on…
Factory Farming: What It Is and Why It's a Problem
This article will explore what factory farming is, what life on a factory farm is like for animals, and why major…
Greenhouse gases are knowingly one of the leading causing of climate change. Co2 in the atmosphere is higher than any time is the past 800,000 years. Greenhouse gases like Co2 are causing global temperatures to rise but it is unknown at how high of a rate (Hendry, 35). Going above 2 degrees F in global temperature rise would put us in a state of unknown ecological territory and lead to irreversible climate change.
As shown in this data collection Co2 emissions have sky rocked since the industrial revolution and is still on an exponential rise.
The reason for the rise in Co2 emissions is due to energy production and resource consumption. Since the industrial revolution Americans, and the rest of the world have become less and less connected to our natural world. Consumerism has become the main foundation of the United States and many other countries. This consumption has lead to booming economic growth for the United States, but at what cost?
Awareness of Human Impact
Waste, pollution, illness and poverty have increased just as quickly as our economic growth. Myself as well as many others, are seeing the detrimental damage that is happening to our environment and our societies due to over-consumption. We have lost touch with our natural world and our values have been altered by consumerism and nature has become a place that is separate and distant from humans (Hendry, 9).
This environmental crisis can only be solved through our awareness of human impact and a reconnection with our natural world. This environmental crisis has been created by a radical disconnection between “human” and “other-than-human”. This is a essential problem because those that are “other-than-human” are seen as “less than human”(Hendry, 10). Leaving nature with no rights and being very venerable to exploitation.
You can become more aware of your impact on the environment by taking the ecological footprint calculator. This calculator shows you how many planets we would need if everyone lived like you.
How many planets does it take to sustain your lifestyle?
What is your Ecological Footprint? How many planets does it take to support your lifestyle? Take this free quiz to find…
I recently used this calculator, I was a little shocked to see my results. I have lots to improve upon but I do consider myself a somewhat conscious consumer. Even with the small improvements I have made in my lifestyle I still got a score of of THREE PLANETS! This made me realize if I really want minimize my ecological footprint I am going to need to step out of my comfort zone, commit to suitable lifestyle choices and reconnect with what really matters. I strongly recommend you use this calculator and see exactly what lifestyle choices your emissions and resources come from.
What can YOU do?
Our world can feel overwhelming especially during times of crisis, many of us are not sure where to start to help end our environmental crisis. One way to help solve this crisis is by simply being a conscious consumer and educating yourself on the goods and services you use. Part of being a conscious consumer also includes consuming less overall. This doesn’t mean never buying yourself anything again, but it means buying things that really mean something to you, buying things that are ethically, responsibly made and are much better quality that will last a lifetime.
Consumers have a lot of power, but being a conscious consumers is only the start to combatting this crisis. We need governmental and social change in order to truly put a stop to our ongoing affects on the environment. Being an active and well informed voter is an important responsibility to make the changes we need. Our consumers choices are important, but what is more important is getting large corporations and major greenhouse gas emitters to be held responsible for their destruction to the environment.
“A Reality Check on Environmental Racism & Plastics.” Surfrider Foundation.
“Factory Farming: What Is It and Why It’s a Problem?” Thehumaneleague.org.
Hendry, J. (2020) Communication and the natural world (2nd Ed). State College, PA: Strata Publishing.
Morgan , Andrew, director. The True Cost. Life Is My Movie Entertainment , 2015.
“The Paris Agreement.” Unfccc.int, United Nations , 24 Sept. 2020.
“Seaspiracy Documentary.” SEASPIRACY, https://www.seaspiracy.org/.