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VIII. Pedia Sapiens: A New Genesis Future

1. An Anthropocene to Earthropocene Moment

Big History 2015 Anthropocene Conference. Google Title. A Transdisciplinary Exploration to be held at Macquarie University in New South Wales, Australia, on December 9-11, 2015. This is the home of Prof. David Christian, founder of the Big History project to integrate human, earth, and cosmic phases. With leading Anthropocene environmentalists such as Will Steffen and Jan Zalasiewicz, along with cosmic philosophers Clement Vidal and David Grinspoon, (search each name) an expansive vista promises to situate Earthkind in a spatial and temporal developmental universe. But all 27 speakers are men, bereft of any imagination of a greater reality and procreation of which Anthropo Sapiens and all else are an intended, intelligible participant phenomenon.

Humanity’s Long Term Prospects Moving beyond the perils and challenges of the next few decades of the Anthropocene and looking at humanity’s prospects for the longer term future informs our ability to formulate our strategies today. It also fuels a sense of optimism about the future. While the nearer you look to the present, the more difficult it is to forecast events, science and Big History make predictions that become much clearer the further into the future you look. This panel will examine the field of foresight in terms of the environment, macro-economics, projections for rising technological complexity, and even the potential for humanity in terms of space exploration and astrobiology. The question of the long term prospects for humanity will embrace the next century, the next millennium, and even the longest term prospects on geological and cosmological timescales. Tackling the Anthropocene from a truly big history perspective, experts from the natural and social sciences will look at the long term potential for humanity, should we overcome the dangers currently confronting us in the 21st century.

Barnosky, Anthony, et al. Introducing the Scientific Consensus on Maintaining Humanity’s Life Support Systems in the 21st Century: Information for Policy Makers. Anthropocene Review. 1/1, 2014. A 16 member team including Paul and Ann Ehrlich, Gretchen Daily, and James Brown provide a tutorial and manifesto for this inaugural issue about what we all need to learn and do to save this precious bioplanet.

Beigi, Shima. Engineering an Anthropocene Citizenship Framework. arXiv:1508.03525. A Iranian-British, University of Bristol civil engineer takes an especially global perspective which integrates Cognitive Maps, Resilience, Known Hazards, Infrastructures, Ecological Systems, and Climate in terms of energy flow input and dissipations. Via attendance and presentations at United Nations Environmental conferences, she concludes it is imperative that peoples be able to see themselves as planetary citizens and address these common issues if we are to survive and sustain. Practical examples such as urban traffic control are cited via an adaptive and cooperative self-organization. Of course, this peaceable future quite requires that barbaric men stop playing nuclear chicken and cease internecine tribal carnage.

This article presents an Anthropocene citizen-centered framework by incorporating the neuroscience of sustainability related stressors, the biology of collaboration in multi-agent ecosystems such as urban systems, and by emphasising on the importance of harnessing the collective intelligence of the crowd in addressing wicked challenges of sustainable development. The Anthropocene citizenship framework aims to transcend the cognitive model of global citizenship and sustainability to a dynamic, resilient and thriving mental model of collective cooperation. (Abstract)

Bierman, Frank, et al. Navigating the Anthropocene: Improving Earth System Governance. Science. 335/1306, 2012. A global team of thirty one environmentalists from Sweden, the Netherlands, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, United Kingdom, Thailand, Norway, Japan, Canada, and the United States lay out a pathway to a appropriate polities for this evident era of a respectfully human-facilitated biosphere. Seven stages or “building blocks” are noted. 1. Upgrade United Nations ecological agencies and programs. 2. Better integration of the social, economic, and environmental bases for sustainable development. 3. Improved national sustainability political responses. 4. Such sustainability policies need have a planetary scale. 5. An educated majority populace who can vote these imperatives into reality. 6. Stronger intergovernmental institutions in regard. 7. In all cases, equity and fairness as the essence of local and global programs.

Brondizio, Eduardo and James Syvitski, eds. The Anthropocene. Global Environmental Change. 39/316, 2016. This is a special section to date about how to properly consider and engage the epic interactivity and impact of technical humanity upon biospheric Earth. A typical paper is Down to Earth: Contextualizing the Anthropocene by Frank Biermann, et al.

Chure, Griffin, et al. The Anthropocene by the Numbers: A Quantitative Snapshot of Humanity’s Influence on the Planet.. arXiv:2101.09620. Nine Caltech researchers including Rob Phillips provide a highly detailed systems analysis in much graphic detail all about the impact of our mobile, industrious people populations on the land, sea and atmosphere. It would then seem necessary to identify this composite sapient personsphere who is retrospectively gaining this knowledge. In regard, it would seem to be a further phase of a self-regulating sustainability that we peoples are altogether meant to avail and apply.

The presence of humans on Earth has strongly influenced planetary evolution over the past ≈ 10,000 years, the consequences of which are now becoming broadly evident. Despite myriad technical studies exploring these impacts, their integration into a complete picture of the human-Earth system lags far behind. Here, we quantify twelve ratios which put their magnitude in context by comparing anthropogenic processes to their natural analogues. These ratios capture the extent to which humans alter the terrestrial surface, hydrosphere, biosphere, atmosphere, and biogeochemistry of Earth. In almost all cases, the impact of human processes rivals or exceeds their natural counterparts. While necessarily incomplete, this work collates essential values for the broad effect of human activities on Earth's atmosphere, land, water, and biota. (Abstract excerpt)

Cook, Brian, et al. Geographies of the Anthropocene. Geographical Research. 53/3, 2016. In a journal of the Institute of Australian Geographers, an introduction to a special issue on this popular subject. The several entries such as Geographers and the Discourse of an Earth Transformed by Noel Castree, Metaphor and the Anthropocene by Lauren Richards and The Anthropoceneans by Lesley Head (Search) affirm that we are in the midst of a most major planetary transformation. Its perilous effects span land, sea, air, flora, fauna, and onto our own personal and public psyches.

Cronin, Michael. Eco-Translation: Translation and Ecology in the Age of the Anthropocene. London: Routledge, 2017. The Dublin City University professor of humanities and social sciences weighs in that a common text of local and global vernaculars could help advance vital environmental solutions.

Ecology has become a central question governing the survival and sustainability of human societies, cultures and languages. In this timely study, Michael Cronin investigates how the perspective of the Anthropocene, or the effect of humans on the global environment, has profound implications for the way translation is considered in the past, present and future. Starting with a deep history of translation and ranging from food ecology to inter-species translation and green translation technology, this thought-provoking book offers a challenging and ultimately hopeful perspective on how translation can play a vital role in the future survival of the planet.

Dalbotten, Diana, et al, eds. Future Earth: Advancing Civic Understanding of the Anthropocene. Washington, DC: American Geophysical Union, 2014. The editors of this Geophysical Monograph 203 are Diana Dalbotten, University of Minnesota, National Center for Earth Surface Dynamics, Gillian Roehrig, UM, STEM Education Center, and Patrick Hamilton, Science Museum of Minnesota. This unique edition is chosen as our section image because the entries cover a multidiscipline scientific basis to educational pathways for public awareness and respectful accommodation. Chapters include Climate Literacy and Scientific Reasoning by Shiyu Liu, et al, Building Capacity to Use Science for Sovereignty in Native Communities by Nievita Bueno Watts, et al, and The Anthropocene and the Framework for K-12 Science Education. A book summary accompanies the image above.

Donges, Jonathan, et al. Closing the Loop: Reconnecting Human Dynamics to Earth System Dynamics. Anthropocene Review. Online August, 2017. Senior Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Stockholm University scientists including Hans Schellnhuber press on with efforts to conceive a sustainable bioplanet by joining human civilizations with “networked transformative change and complex coevolutionary dynamics.” This vital unity might then be facilitated by “a complex systems view of the Anthropocene.”

International commitment to the appropriately ambitious Paris climate agreement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 has pulled into the limelight the urgent need for major scientific progress in understanding and modelling the Anthropocene, the tightly intertwined social-environmental planetary system that humanity now inhabits. The Anthropocene qualitatively differs from previous eras in Earth’s history in three key characteristics: (1) There is planetary-scale human agency. (2) There are social and economic networks of teleconnections spanning the globe. (3) It is dominated by planetary-scale social-ecological feedbacks. Bolting together old concepts and methodologies cannot be an adequate approach to describing this new geological era. Instead, we need a new paradigm in Earth System science that is founded equally on a deep understanding of the physical and biological Earth System – and of the economic, social and cultural forces that are now an intrinsic part of it. It is time to close the loop and bring socially mediated dynamics explicitly into theory, analysis and models that let us study the whole Earth System. (Abstract)

Frank, Adam, et al. Earth as a Hybrid Planet: The Anthropocene in an Evolutionary Astrobiological Context. Anthropocene. Online August, 2017. Senior scholars Frank, University of Rochester, Axel Kleidon, MPI Biogeochemistry, and Marina Alberti, University of Washington (search names) offer a visionary perspective of life’s worldwide technological civilization by way of five planetary phases. Akin to the Nikolai Kardashev classification (search NK) some 50 years on, it is scaled by degrees of thermodynamic energy usage. The generic stages are radiative equilibrium without an atmosphere, some atmospheric greenhouse gases, biotic avail of chemical or solar energy, and fourthly life forms a non-equilibrium “thick biosphere.” In our Anthropocene age, human intentional agency then supersedes natural forces to radically modify the global environment. It is advised that this expansive spatial and temporal vista can help inspire an Earth allegiance (planetary patriotism) as a uniquely precious, sustainable cosmic abode. See also a companion paper The Astrobiology of the Anthropocene by Jacob Haqq-Misra, et al with coauthor Adam Frank at arXiv:1801.00052.

We develop a classification scheme for the evolutionary state of planets based on the non-equilibrium thermodynamics of their coupled systems, including the presence of a biosphere and the possibility of what we call an “agency-dominated biosphere” (i.e. an energy-intensive technological species). The premise is that Earth’s entry into the “Anthropocene” represents what might be, from an astrobiological perspective, a predictable planetary transition. We explore this problem from the perspective of the solar system and exoplanet studies. Our classification discriminates planets by the forms of free energy generation driven from stellar forcing. We then explore how timescales for global evolutionary processes on Earth might be synchronized with ecological transformations driven by increases in energy harvesting and its consequences (which might have reached a turning point with global urbanization). Finally, we describe quantitatively the classification scheme based on the maintenance of chemical disequilibrium in the past and current Earth systems and on other worlds in the solar system.

In this perspective, the beginning of the Anthropocene can be seen as the onset of the hybridization of the planet – a transitional stage from one class of planetary systems interaction to another. For Earth, this stage occurs as the effects of human civilization yield not just new evolutionary pressures, but new selected directions for novel planetary ecosystem functions and their capacity to generate disequilibrium and enhance planetary dissipation. (Abstract)

Gaffney, Owen and Will Steffen. The Anthropocene Equation. Anthropocene Review. Online February, 2017. Senior Stockholm University and Australian National University environmentalists attempt to quantify the present fluid, perilous state of our human industrial proliferation over the finite biosphere. In regard, four main factors – A for astronomical forcings, G for geophysical effects, I as the internal dynamics of the Earth system, and especially H for the increasingly prime driver of human activities – are set in a mathematical form. A conclusion is obvious: We deduce that astronomical and geophysical forcings in the Holocene and into the entire Quarternary approximate to zero compared with the impact of current human pressures on the rate of change of the Earth System.

The dominant external forces influencing the rate of change of the Earth System have been astronomical and geophysical during the planet’s 4.5-billion-year existence. In the last six decades, anthropogenic forcings have driven exceptionally rapid rates of change in the Earth System. This new regime can be represented by an ‘Anthropocene equation’, where other forcings tend to zero, and the rate of change under human influence can be estimated. Reducing the risk of leaving the glacial–interglacial limit cycle of the late Quaternary for an uncertain future will require, in the first instance, the rate of change of the Earth System to become approximately zero. (Abstract)

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