Anthropocene Series of Prints
by S.T. Paxton
The purpose of the Anthropocene Series of prints is to promote discussion about the role of humans as a geological force in nature.
Evidence for human activity on the surface of the earth is abundant and varied. Satellites capture images of the earth from space 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Many of these images of earth’s surface, publicly available from NASA/USGS, are beautiful in their own right and form the heart of the Anthropocene Series of prints.
What is “Anthropocene”?
Anthropocene, or the “Age of Man”, is a name proposed by scientists for a new geological epoch of time in which evidence for humans and human activity on earth is detectible in the sedimentary layers of the planet. Other popular ages, based on fossils and other material evidence found in the rocks (from oldest to youngest), include (1) Age of Trilobites, (2) Age of Fishes, (3) Age of Coal, (4) Age of Amphibians, (5) Age of Reptiles, (6) Age of Mammals, (7) Ice Age, and now, (8) Age of Man!
Through agriculture, extraction of natural resources, and urban development, humans have accelerated the rate at which soils are eroded from the continents. The soils are transported and carried from the continents to the ocean basins by streams and rivers. In the ocean basins, the soil particles accumulate to form extensive layers of sediment that contain physical and chemical by-products of our society.
For instance, inspection of modern mud that accumulates on the ocean floor reveals the presence of small particles of plastic. These small bits of plastic are derived from degraded plastic bags and bottles. Also, analysis of the chemistry of ocean sediments reveals the presence of bisphenol A, a chemical used in the production of plastics (polycarbonates and epoxy resins, specifically).
These muddy ocean sediments, derived from erosion of soils (and with plastics included), are modern sedimentary rocks in the making. With the passage of time and, aided by future continental collisions and mountain building, these layers of muddy sediment will be transformed into sedimentary rocks containing evidence of humans and our global activities.
Click on this link to watch a well done video put together by the Planet Under Pressure committee for a conference held in London during March, 2012.
WELCOME TO THE ANTHROPOCENE ! ! !
The following links cover some of the debate about the proposed new geologic epoch called the “Anthropocene”.
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