When the stars align I blog about climate change and sustainability ideas. Here I catalog innovative ideas that I think contribute to a sustainable and authentic lifestyle. I love art, design, technology, and to travel. I love the idea of minimalism and philosophies that discuss creating value so those ideas sneak in here and there. 

Defining Anthropocene


In the about section I mention that I am an environmental scientist. While that is technically correct, my bachelors is in geology. I never set out to be one and I actually can't count how many colleagues I have who are also "accidental geologists." I was going to be a physicist or something just as glamorous, but fortunately I stayed open in my studies and found that geology and environmental sciences are the most interesting, integrated and important (in my opinion of course) of all the hard sciences. And it is more glamorous than one may think, just take a look at all the mineral samples throughout my studio!

Long story short, my roots are in the bedrock of all the physical sciences: geology. I suppose that is why I feel compelled to remark on a New Yorker article from earlier this month. In the piece author Michelle Nijhuis reports on the end of the Holocene our most recent geologic epoch which spans the last 11,700 years on Earth. This would mean that humanity accepting that we have entered a new, human-driven epoch, the Anthropocene (for which this blog is named). Many proposed the start of this human era began at the time of the industrial revolution when we began our course of significantly change the physical and chemical characteristics of the Earth. But a study in Nature earlier this year proposed the start in the 1940s after the first atomic bomb drop. Another article published in Nature this month looks at various indicators that show when humankind's relationship with the Earth shifted from one of dependence to one of dominance. They contend that the "start" of the Anthropocene is between the 1600s to the mid 1960s.

What I find most interesting is that traditionally, changes in geologic epochs are defined by physical characteristics in the environment that can be measure without first-hand historical knowledge: atmospheric compositions, ocean characteristics, rock layers, etc. Yet we are considering a revision in how we delineate periods of time. Our planetary influence can be measured as we have done so historically with geologic periods that we as a species have not experienced first hand. Or we can look at the actions we have taken an philosophically  determine a starting point of our reign over our environment. This, to mean, seems like a huge opportunity for more reflection on just how pervasive our human influence is to shift the norms of "hard-science."