The future is a foreign planet
London: Later today, I’ll be hosting a live web chat with two fun and inspired scientists, ecologist Erle Ellis and geologist Jan Zalasiewicz, asking: Are we entering a new geological age? (based on my feature article in this week’s Science magazine). The Science Live chat starts at 3pm for Erle and those of you on east coast US time, 12pm in west coast US, and 8pm for me, Jan and everyone in the UK – do join us and ask some probing questions. (After the chat, you’ll be able to read the whole transcript of the discussion.) And I’m also interviewed about the Anthropocene in this week’s Science podcast (about 20 mins in).
The idea that we’re entering a new geological age – the Anthropocene, or ‘Age of Man’ – is something I’ve discussed before. It’s a fascinating time in our species’ history. As far as we know, Earth is the only living planet, and we are the only species – in the Universe – to be making system-wide changes to a planet; changes that are so profound, that they can be considered on a par with those made by Earth-shattering asteroids or planet-cloaking volcanoes.
We’re taking our spinning lump of rock, and everything on it, on a journey into the unknown – into a hotter, less climatically stable future, with a vast and growing human population, but with rapidly diminishing biodiversity. And, we are now aware of the effects we are having. It’s the first time in the history of the Universe that an organised DNA-toting sack of chemicals has knowingly changed a planet.
So join us, as we discuss how we’re changing Earth, whether we’ve entered a new geological age and how we might modulate our impacts to ensure the survival of as many other DNA bags as possible on this, the only living planet. In short: how can we become good ancestors?