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VIII. Earth Earns: An Open Participatory Earthropocene to Ecosmocene CoCreativity

1. This Human Impact Anthropocene Stage

Zalasiewicz, Jan, et al. Making the Case for a Formal Anthropocene Epoch. Newsletters on Stratigraphy. 50/2, 2017. 27 senior coauthors including Will Steffen, Jacques Grinevald, Mark Williams, and Andrew Rifkin make a scientific and conceptual statement to rebut recent criticisms. This latest human phase in its global presence does in fact constitute a distinct, post-Holocene geological and biospheric era.

A range of published arguments against formalizing the Anthropocene as a geological time unit have variously suggested that it is a misleading term of non-stratigraphic origin and usage, is based on insignificant temporal and material stratigraphic content unlike that used to define older geological time units, and is driven more by politics than science. In response, we contend that the Anthropocene is a functional term that has firm geological grounding in a well-characterized stratigraphic record. The Anthropocene differs from previously defined epochs in reflecting contemporary geological change, which in turn also leads to the term's use over a wide range of social and political discourse. Here we respond to the arguments opposing the geological validity and utility of the Anthropocene, and submit that a strong case may be made for the Anthropocene to be treated as a formal chronostratigraphic unit and added to the Geological Time Scale. (Abstract excerpt)

Zalasiewicz, Jan, et al. The New World of the Anthropocene. Environmental Science & Technology. 44/7, 2010. With co-authors Mark Williams, Will Steffen, and Paul Crutzen, we cite this reference to enter a term that has lately become accepted to describe a radical age of earth evolution. First advanced in 2000 by Nobel chemist Crutzen, earlier an alarmist about nuclear winter, it has caught on to represent vast alterations to geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere due to human industrial and commercial impact. Cover stories in National Geographic for March 2011, The Economist for May 26, 2011, along with a March 2011 dedicated issue on the Anthropocene in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, indicate its value in providing a planetary platform for discussion. These contributions document the epochal degree in hardly more than a century to which earth’s surface is being made over, and then advocate imperative remediations so in our insensate excess we do not terminally destroy it (an apocalyptic summer?).

Zalasiewicz, Jan, et al. The Working Group on the Anthropocene: Summary of Evidence and Interim Recommendations. Anthropocene. 19/55, 2017. In common usage, the Anthropocene refers to a time interval marked by rapid but profound and far-reaching change to the Earth’s geology, currently driven by various forms of human impact. (1) Some 26 senior authors such as Paul Crutzen and Will Steffen review this continuing sensible project to fully understand and define this crucial latest era.

Zalasiewicz, Jan, et al, eds. The Anthropocene as a Geological Time Unit: A Guide to the Scientific Evidence and Current Debate. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019. Into the 21st century, this concept of a late historic era due to the populous industrial, technological, citified, resource-consuming, energy-burning human species has gained common use. The collection gathers many Earth system studies by which to certify a true evolutionary stage beyond the Holocene (12,000 years ago to circa 1950). Among its seven sections are History and Development as a Stratigraphic Concept, Biostratigraphic Signatures, The Technosphere and its Physical Record, and Climate Change, with authoritative entries by Will Steffen, Colin Waters, Naomi Oreskes, Mark Williams, Jacques Grinevald, and many more. We note The Technosphere and its Relation to the Anthropocene by Peter Haff which argues that a common, willful intention will be vital to mitigate and sustain.

The anthroposphere encompasses the total human presence throughout the Earth system including our culture, technology, built environment, and associated activities. The anthroposphere complements the term anthropocene – the age within which the anthroposphere developed. Some mark this age as beginning with the advent of agriculture, others with the industrial revolution. A growing movement within the geological community is considering establishing the anthropocene as a new geologic era, possibly starting around 1950. In physical terms, the anthroposphere is comprised of the cities, villages, energy and transportation networks, farms, mines, and ports. It also encompasses books, software, blueprints, and communication systems - the mark of civilization. (Aspen Global Change Institute)

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