Una cartografia dell’Antropocene

Le immagini sono troppo belle per non condividerle con voi. Ma non posso riprodurle qui: vi suggerisco di andarle e vedere utilizzando questo link: A Cartography of the Anthropocene

Cartografie dell'antropocene

globaia.org

The Anthropocene. We’re already there. This is our time, our creation, our challenge.

Officially, this epoch does not exist. Yet. It may be added permanently to the geologic time scale in August 2012, at the 34th congress organized by the International Union of Geological Sciences, to be held in Brisbane, Australia. It is the International Commission on Stratigraphy that determines the denomination and the calibration of different divisions and subdivisions of geological time, which date back to the formation of the Earth, 4.6 billion years ago.

Unofficially however, the term is used more frequently in the scientific literature and, more recently, in publications dedicated to the general public.

So, might you ask, what is the Anthropocene?

First, the etymology. The Ancient Greek [anthropos] means “human being” while [kainos] means “new, current.” The Anthropocene would thus be best defined as the new human-dominated period of the Earth’s history.

The term was proposed in 2000 by Paul J. Crutzen, Nobel Prize in 1995 for his work on atmospheric chemistry and his research on stratospheric ozone depletion (the so-called “hole”), and by Eugene F. Stoermer in a publication (p. 17) of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme. But the concept itself, the idea that human activity affects the Earth to the point where it can cross a new age, is not new and dates back to the late nineteenth century. Different terms were proposed over the decades, such as Anthropozoic (Stoppani, 1873), Noosphere (de Chardin, 1922; Vernadsky, 1936), Eremozoic (Wilson, 1992), and Anthrocene (Revkin, 1992). It seems that the success of the term chosen by Crutzen and Stoermer is due to the luck of having been made at the appropriate time, when humankind became more than ever aware of the extent of its impact on global environment. It should be noted that Edward O. Wilson (who suggested Eremozoic, “the age of loneliness”) popularized the terms “biodiversity” and “biophilia.”

Technically, the Anthropocene is the most recent period of the Quaternary, succeding to the Holocene. The Quaternary is a period of the Earth’s history characterized by numerous and cyclical glaciations, starting 2,588,000 years ago (2.588 Ma). The Quaternary is divided into three epochs: the Pleistocene, the Holocene, and now the Anthropocene.

The Pleistocene (2.588 Ma to 11.7 Ka) was a tumultuous era, during which more than eleven major glaciations occurred. Furthermore, the Pleistocene is also the time of early humans, the exit of our ancestors from Africa, the invention of the first tools, the evolution of bipedalism, the invention of graphic arts, cultural and linguistic refinements, and the dominance of Homo sapiens on the other hominids.

The Holocene (11.7 ka until about 1800 AD) was a time comparatively smoother in terms of climate variability. At the end of the last Ice Age, 12,000 years ago, a more stable climate regime settled on Earth. The ice gave way to temperate climates, and already, humans were present on all continents. It took a few thousand years for agriculture (domestication of land by humans for food mainly) to take off in the Fertile Crescent and elsewhere in Africa, China, New Guinea and South America. Thus went human progress, managing with success to feed ever more humans.

We are officially still in the Holocene. In fact, we are in the Phanerozoic Eon, Cenozoic era, Quaternary period and Holocene epoch. But now, the Earth’s system does not seem to behave the same way as, say, at the time of Hesiod, Dante or Cervantes. The Earth of the 21st century is warming, overcrowded, partly deforested, and more toxic and interconnected than ever. The comforting envelope of the Holocene, which has fostered the birth of civilizations, is now punctured.

Una Risposta to “Una cartografia dell’Antropocene”

  1. eli Says:

    hi boris–i speak italian and i wanted to thank you for this piece, one of the smartest and most interesting things written about ‘the face thief” in any language. impressive! all best, eli gottlieb


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