Thanks, Mitchel. A world-historic topic.

But the question of the Anthropocene has been debated for a much longer
time beginning by scientists in the Soviet Union (see, Wikipedia entry

There are two very different questions in the article your posted. One is
the question of whether of not human activity has changed the earth system.
The second, a narrower question, is that if such human activity is
significant enough to leave its mark in the rock formation for future
geologists to discern a new epoch.  I submit the latter is more of an
academic question. But the former is the question of the future of life on
earth (see, for example, "The Great Acceleration
As such, the Anthropocene (not as a geological epoch but as "The Age of
Man" has a much earlier beginning. Thus, the time span "The Great
Acceleration" studies roughly begins with the onset of the English
Industrial Revolution.  But some argue it began much earlier.

Basing myself on archeological and Anthropological research, I have argued
that the "Age of Man" began with the Agricultural Revolution about 10,000
years ago when systematic domestication of plants and animals became the
basis of first modes of production, "The farm" was the first human-made
(artificial) ecosystem which required consistent work to dominate and
control nature.  But humans have lived for at least 300,000 years on earth,
290,000 years of it as hunter-gatherers (who still exists in ever-smaller
patches of the planet). The rise of agrarian societies and civilization
required a fundamental break with the world view of hunter gatherers who
saw themselves as a small part of the rest of cosmos (e.g. animism). I call
such world views "ecocentrism" in contrast to the world view characteristic
of "The Age of Man," that is, anthropocentrism (human-centered world view).

Given this, I have argued that we now face a crisis of civilization--more
precisely, a crisis of the anthropocentric industrial capitalist
civilization), not simply a capitalist crisis (e.g. as explained bu Marxist
economists as a falling average rate of profit, etc.) or an ecological
crisis as the Greens have it.

The problem of the Anthropocene is a key problem to view not simply as a
scientific one but also as the social and political one. To save the world
we must love the world--and one cannot love anything if one wants to
dominate and control it.

Here is my two cents given as talk to a conference of socialist in Berkeley
on October 13, 2018:
The Crisis of Civilization and How to Resolve It: An Introduction to
Ecocentric Socialism
For the Earth,


On Thu, Apr 18, 2019 at 7:06 AM Mitchel Cohen <[log in to unmask]>

> *The Cataclysmic Break That (Maybe) Occurred in 1950*Sixty-nine years
> ago, a new geological era may have begun on Earth.
> Robinson Meyer <> Apr
> 16, 2019
> [image: []] Ivan Alvarado / Reuters
> Here is the hypothesis: Not so long ago, the very nature of planet Earth
> suffered a devastating rupture. The break was sudden, global, and
> irreversible. It happened on a Sunday within living memory. Mick Jagger,
> Meryl Streep, and Caitlyn Jenner were all born before this crack in time.
> Vladimir Putin, Liam Neeson, and Mr. T were all born after it.
> That idea might soon carry the weight of scientific fact. Later this
> month, a committee of researchers from around the world will decide whether
> the Earth sprang into the Anthropocene, a new chapter of its history, in
> the year 1950. If accepted, this delineation will signal a new reality,
> that human activities, not natural processes, are now the dominant driver
> of change on Earth’s surface­that carbon pollution, climate change,
> deforestation, factory farms, mass die-offs, and enormous road networks
> have made a greater imprint on the planet than any other force in the past
> 12,000 years.
> Starting next week, the committee’s 37 members will vote on two questions.
> First, should the Anthropocene be added as a new epoch to the Geological
> Time Scale <>,
> the standard scientific timeline of Earth’s 4.5-billion-year history?
> Second, should the Anthropocene, if it does exist, commence in the middle
> of the 20th century?
> William Ruddiman <>, a
> professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, is
> extremely worried about climate change, but he nonetheless hopes the
> committee votes against both questions. For the past two years, he has
> lobbied its members to think of the Anthropocene not as a sudden upheaval,
> but as a gradual change, a slow transformation of the planet that began
> 5,000 years ago. “Where could you possibly pick a single start date in this
> ever-evolving story?” he once asked me in an email.
> Last week, he and 23 other researchers argued the topic at length in the
> scientific journal *Progress in Physical Geography*. At stake is a
> seemingly simple question: When did human influence over the environment
> reach a tipping point?
> For Jan Zalasiewicz, a professor of geography at the University of
> Leicester, the answer is clear. Zalasiewicz chairs the Anthropocene Working
> Group, the committee that will soon vote on the existence of the epoch.
> “If you look at the main parameters of the Earth-system metabolism, then …
> things only began to change sharply and dramatically with
> industrialization,” he told me. He believes that the most significant event
> in humanity’s life on the planet is the Great Acceleration
> <>,
> the period of rapid global industrialization that followed the Second World
> War. As factories and cars spread across the planet, as the United States
> and U.S.S.R. prepared for the Cold War, carbon pollution soared. So too did
> methane pollution, the number of extinctions and invasive species, the
> degree of surface-level radiation, the quantity of plastic in the ocean,
> and the amount of rock and soil moved around the planet.
> It was “the Big Zoom,” he said, borrowing a phrase from the journalist
> Andrew Revkin. There is “nothing really comparable” to that shift in any
> other period of Earth history. Even setting carbon pollution aside, he
> said, the spike in fertilizer use led to the largest jump in surface
> nitrogen levels in 2.5 billion years. Zalasiewicz hopes the committee will
> start the Anthropocene in the middle of the 20th century.
> Ruddiman isn’t so sure. He believes that humanity’s effect on the planet
> is spread throughout time and is driven primarily by agriculture. Before
> the year 1750, he argues, humans had already cleared so much forest as to
> produce 300 billion tons of carbon emissions. Since 1950, deforestation has
> only led to 75 billion tons of emissions.
> Read: Geology’s timekeepers are feuding
> <>
> Humans remade the planet in other ways, too. About 12,000 years ago, we
> drove a huge swath of American mammals, including the giant ground sloth,
> into extinction. About 11,000 years ago, we entered into unprecedented
> relationships with crops and some livestock, domesticating them and taming
> their genome. Between 6,000 and 7,000 years ago, humans began clear-cutting
> forests to create new agricultural land; they may have transformed much of
> Europe by doing so. And by about 1,000 years ago, as humans embraced
> tilling and made rice paddies, they began moving more dirt and rock around
> the surface of the planet than is moved naturally.
> “I don’t think it’s possible to put an exact date” on the Anthropocene,
> Ruddiman told me last week. “It goes on continuously for 12,000 years.
> There’s no obvious break point. Even just the invention of tilling­it’s
> huge.” For that reason, he believes that the committee shouldn’t add a
> capital-A Anthropocene to the geological timeline. Instead, scientists
> should talk about the “lower-a anthropocene”­a set of profound changes
> wrought to Earth over the course of millennia, across many different
> places. They culminate in the biggest anthropocene of all: modern,
> human-caused climate change.
> It is important to say *modern*, for Ruddiman believes that humans have
> already shifted the climate once before. About a decade ago, he proposed
> what’s called the “early anthropocene hypothesis”­a theory that ancient
> agricultural clear-cutting added so much carbon to the atmosphere that it
> effectively stopped Arctic glaciers from expanding more than 3,000 years
> ago. If not for that deforestation, then there would be an additional
> Greenland’s worth of ice in the Canadian Arctic today, he said.
> While Ruddiman’s hypothesis is not widely accepted, it is taken seriously
> by the community. And his broader skepticism of codifying a late
> Anthropocene is shared by several members of the working group. In a
> separate paper published last week, five members of the committee rejected
> the idea of the 1950s Anthropocene. Today’s scientists are simply too close
> to the events at hand to place a division in geological time, they argue.
> We don’t yet know how significantly the planet’s climate will change in the
> centuries to come: Will the shift be of the same magnitude as what occurred
> at the end of the last Ice Age, 12,000 years ago? Will it be equal to the
> first time that ice seized the surface of Earth, 2.1 million years ago? Or
> does it signal something far larger, a cataclysm on par with the asteroid
> impact that ended the dinosaur-dominated Mesozoic Era, 66 million years
> ago? “There is no testable way of knowing at present,” they wrote.
> The five authors also point out that the last 12,000 years would be
> understood as a single geological instant if they had happened millions of
> years ago. (Indeed, it would be one of the most shocking geological moments
> in the whole rock record.) And they worry about the sudden divisions that a
> great split in 1950 would impose on geology. If the Anthropocene is adopted
> as a formal time division, it will mean that any process that began in 1947
> and ended in 1953 would straddle two epochs.
> So far, the committee at large has not seemed to accept these criticisms.
> In another paper published last week, Zalasiewicz and 16 of his colleagues
> wrote that any human-induced changes prior to 1950 paled in comparison with
> those that came after.
> Read: How the concept of deep time is changing
> <>
> “The difference between before and what’s happening now … it’s
> geologically quite dramatic,” Zalasiewicz told me. “We hadn’t realized that
> at the beginning. In 2009, I didn’t know that the Anthropocene would be as
> clear and sharp as it has been. I thought it might fade away into a fuzzy
> gradational change.” Instead, the committee has accumulated more and more
> evidence that a new epoch lurched into existence during the mid-20th
> century, he said.
> Carbon pollution, methane pollution, and world population all spiked after
> 1950 as they never had before, he argues. Ruddiman told me he doubted some
> of the committee’s reconstructions of human population, but appreciated
> their “good-faith effort to respond.”
> The idea of the Anthropocene was first proposed
> <>
> by the Nobel-winning chemist Paul Crutzen in 2000. Since then, it has
> caught on more broadly in culture, even though it is not a formal term in
> geology. (The musician Grimes is releasing an Anthropocene-themed album
> later this year
> <>.)
> But it could soon have its day: If the working group accepts its existence,
> that will clear the way for the International Commission on Stratigraphy
> <> and the International Union of Geological
> Sciences <> to accept it in full.
> Of the working group’s 37 members, 17 members signed their name to
> Zalasiewicz’s paper, and only five signed their name to the more skeptical
> review. That leaves 15 committee members unaligned in advance of the
> upcoming vote. “You’d think people who served on a committee for years
> would be more willing to put their name on paper,” Ruddiman said. The vote
> will take place electronically and continue through May. If it succeeds,
> then the committee will busy itself with the next task: finding evidence in
> the rock record of the precise moment that humanity pushed Earth into a
> bewildering new era.
> -----------------------------------------------------------------
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> Robinson Meyer <> is a
> staff writer at *The Atlantic*, where he covers climate change and
> technology.
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Kamran Nayeri