Anthropocene Joyride

National Research Council, 2011: ‘Understanding Earth’s Deep Past: Lessons for Our Climate Future.’

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Anthropocene Joyride

The Anthropocene geological epoch began when human activity first had a GLOBAL impact on the planet’s environments. That was in late 1965, when the first evidence of a human-caused effect was detected EVERYWHERE, indicating a simultaneous global impact by human activity.

That evidence was the signature of radioactivity (Carbon-14) from nuclear bomb test fallout incorporated into tree rings for the year 1965 (within October to December) at all latitudes and longitudes. Atmospheric nuclear bomb explosions were set off from 1945 to, primarily, 1963. The peak of such activity was an orgy of bomb tests by the U.S. and USSR in 1962. [1]

Prior to 1965 many species had had geographically limited impact on altering environments, like pre-columbian humans in North America making pastures out of forests in Appalachian valleys, herd animals making permanent migration trails, and grazing animals nibbling bush down to grasslands.

But all previous geological epochs were set by planetary geophysics, such as with the coalescing of continents into the supercontinent Pangaea (335Mya) and then its breakup (from 175Mya), and the comings and goings of the Ice Ages, the last one starting 2.58Mya, and ending 11,700 years ago.

While we now know that human activity can have a simultaneous global impact for setting off a planetary geophysical process — global warming climate change with biodiversity losses — we do not yet know if human activity can set off a different planetary geophysical process to counter global warming climate change and biodiversity losses.

It is obvious that the only credible global climate stabilizing process available is the socio-economic revolution of abandoning nationalistic fossil-fueled capitalism, and replacing it with an international democratic socialism whose industrial and technological elements are powered by renewable energy, which does not emit greenhouse gases. [2]

Such a necessary transformation of organized human society is most definitely a challenge to the political processes of Earth’s 193-odd nations, and to the ambitions and prejudices of their political classes, their wealth elites, and their general populations. The practical problem facing climate stabilization activists is to overcome these political difficulties as soon as possible. Admittedly, this is a monumental task, and some fear it impossible. Even so, defeatism here is ignominious while engagement in this cause will at a minimum salvage personal honor, and most optimistically secure humanity’s long-term future.

So for now it is best to think of humans as in the driver’s seat of the Anthropocene Earth Car with the foot mashed down on the gas pedal connected to a powerful fuel-injected engine, but with the brake lines cut. Time of impact is unknown, but terminal speed will be high.

Notes

[1] The Anthropocene’s Birthday
https://manuelgarciajr.com/2018/02/23/the-anthropocenes-birthday/

[2] The Improbability of CO2 Removal from the Atmosphere
https://manuelgarciajr.com/2020/08/09/the-improbability-of-co2-removal-from-the-atmosphere/

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The Anthropocene’s Birthday

The Anthropocene’s Birthday, or the birthyear of human-accelerated climate change.

Scientists have found a major spike in the amount of Carbon-14 within the tree rings of “The Loneliest Tree In The World,” which ring corresponds to October-December 1965.

This tree is a Sitka Spruce, a species from the American Northwest (and into Canada) that was planted on Campbell Island in 1901 (or 1905), which island is in the Southern Ocean about 400 miles south of the southern tip of New Zealand.

There are no other trees on Campbell Island, just low scrubs. Since the next landmass south of Campbell Island is Antarctica, this tree is the furthest one south on Earth (so far as I can tell). The next closest tree is north about 170 miles, on another small island south of New Zealand.

The significance of this finding is that geologists now know that the start of the Anthropocene – which is the geological Epoch (after the Holocene Epoch) when GLOBAL (not just local) climate is clearly being influenced by human activity and at an accelerating rate – began in 1965. The Holocene Epoch occurred from -11,700 to 1965.

The Carbon-14 marker is from the radioactive fallout from atmospheric nuclear bomb testing, which grew from 1945 and peaked in 1962, after which it stopped in 1963 as a result of the Test Ban treaty of that year (except for a few isolated atmospheric tests since).

The accumulated radioactive fallout from the massive testing of the 1950s and early 1960s (with a huge amount in 1962) had finally spread out uniformly through the global atmosphere, and the Carbon-14 from that fallout was being infused into trees globally through the process of photosynthesis.

So, this spike in tree-ring Carbon-14 in 1965 is a GLOBAL marker of human activity on global climate, and thus marks the ‘birthday’ of human-induced/accelerated Climate Change.

Coring “the loneliest tree in the world”
https://youtu.be/954fZW9F3tQ

The geophysical transition of 1965, noted above, was imperceptible to the human senses, but it is a very significant event/transition in the history of Planet Earth.

You should easily be able to find internet sources giving all the scientific details including charts/graphs of the actual Carbon-14 signature (of the subject tree) over time, which clearly displays the spike during 1965. This same spike was found in trees sampled in the Northern Hemisphere as well, and since there was the same marker on trees globally – for the first time – it was clear the spike indicated a uniformly global effect. And that effect was caused by humans. Hence, the birth of the Anthropocene.

Geologists are now updating their table of geological supereon-eon-era-period-epoch-age, and all textbooks will have to be updated. The last Epoch (the Holocene) of the Quaternary Period extended from 11,700 years ago, when the last glacial retreat was clearly accelerating and the Ice Ages were over, and 1965 when humanity now had leverage on the global climate: the Anthropocene.

When will the next Epoch begin, and how will it be determined (and will there be any ‘who’ to do so)?

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The part of this posting down to and including the weblink to the tree coring video were published online at Counterpunch, see below.

The Anthropocene’s Birthday, or the Birth-Year of Human-Accelerated Climate Change
22 February 2018
by Manuel García, Jr.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/02/22/the-anthropocenes-birthday-or-the-birth-year-of-human-accelerated-climate-change/

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