donderdag 9 januari 2014

The Holocene is so MySpace. The Anthropocene is shit.

The Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy working group responsible for setting a precise boundary between the middle and late Pleistocene is able to work in relative peace as relevant studies and data drip in. At no point is their work interfered by blogging careerists and pop-science gurus. At no point are people assuming that a decision on the matter has already been made or that the outcome is only a formality. 

How many people can seriously lay claim to expert knowledge on what determines the beginning and end of geological ages? Yet the group working on the acceptance of the Anthropocene as a valid geological epoch appear to be lagging behind the consensus of popular understanding: humans Have become a geological force and further data can only tell us what we already know. We Have become all powerful and in the future we will be even more so and as such the Anthropocene is a self-evident update of the geological timescale. 

Why do people who keep stum on the technicalities of geographical chronology lose their common sense when the topic is the Anthropocene? Why do so many take it for granted without a second thought.

The answer to this should at least contain the following elements:

- We are unable to think about ourselves (as a species) in a timescale longer than, let's say, a century. What is prominent now must be prominent for ever. Look at Britney Spears: she does not go away, surely global warming must be just as persistent.

- We think of ourself as living through great changes. Google? Holy! FaceBook? Holy! Smart Phone? Holy! Tablet Pride!! Everything acceleratingly accelerates, everything in our lives gets reinvented every decade and geology should follow our love, no our need, for fashions. The Holocene is so MySpace.
-The Anthropocene fits our self-image. We like to think of ourself as all-powerful. Some may resent it and for them the Anthropocene is what defines us as Lex Luthers, it is the kryptonite the feeds our self-loathing. For others the Anthropocene represents the, unstated, ultimate goal of humanity to overcome all matter and energy, to become   Superman and change the ancient ways of our planet. 

- We just can't face the possibility of being a bunch of hairless (chimpanzee ugly) and socially crude bonobos.

Predicting Amazonian dark-earths

"Predicting pre-Columbian anthropogenic soils in Amazonia" or read about as pop-science. The practical application of this I suspect would be to narrow down the search area. The above graph however is one of the better info-maps on the anthropogenic Amazon that I have seen.