It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Monday, August 2, 2010

Welcome to the anthropocene

Children examining oil spilled on Pensacola Beach, FL, via


Vinny Burgoo said...

Welcome to the anthropocene, 1928:

And here's a piglet race being started by a midget:

Why? Er... Exploitation of a dwindling natural resource?

I'll get me coat.

bigcitylib said...

One of my favorite dino guys on why it shouldn't be called that:

Michael Tobis said...


(see Tertiary, Quaternary)

Belette said...



As to the rest (I'm being Devil's advocate here): OK, so there is some oil on the beach. Not terribly pretty for the humans, but does anything else care?

Michael Tobis said...

The question is how this affects the children;s world view. Vinny's spectacular picture (and the amazing early history of oil, which now that I'm in Texas, I can't help taking an interest in) is more striking, but in my view less interesting in its implications.

In the old picture, people put up with the negative aspects of the source of their prosperity. They have something the world wants, and they are happy hanging around in its shadow.

In the contemporary picture, children see and smell the oil, but know that the accident was two states away near off Mississippi and Louisiana. The world, thereby, becomes very much smaller for them.

dhogaza said...

"Not terribly pretty for the humans, but does anything else care?"

We could start with nesting sea turtles ...

Move on to feeding shorebirds ...

Steve Bloom said...

Michael, you asserted this in the commentless thread:

"Further research will not have much impact on the policy time scale, certainly not at the global geopolitical scale that most interests Roger and myself."

I have the impression that rather a lot of scinetists disagree with that. In any case I think a separate post exploring it would be good.

BTW, many, including me I hasten to add, decided some time ago to decline to comment on RP Jr.'s blog. I'd have some things to say about your post, but now can't say them.

guthrie said...

Steve - the final refuge for those who have something to say is usually a blog. OK, its also the first refuge for many people, but if you are having trouble finding anywhere to comment it is a simple way to do so.

Mind you I havn't updated the blog behind this for years, since I mostly post on a LJ.

Hank Roberts said...

Hey, some places have oil, others have seaweed:

"... There was so much evidence all around us that the muscular application of science and technology could in fact save us from anything.

Slowly and painfully, however, we have learned the limits to that belief. It was hiding in plain sight in the one domain we barely gave thought to, a background that seemed both innocuous and invisible.

Ecologies have been the shore on which the grand dreams of the last few centuries — our grandfather’s science — have run aground. ..."

White House said...
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Hank Roberts said...

Well, Roger cut off postings at his site before I could annotate a long posting quoting Reason Magazine listing a bunch of scientists who made bad predictions.

I looked up one of them, a "Kenneth Watt, Ecologist" -- listed as warning about global cooling.

This guy:

Isn't that _special_?

Sorry, Roger, I'd have given you the scoop if you hadn't locked the topic.

Welcome to whatever this is.

文王廷 said...
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Hank Roberts said...

Well, someone's got a clue -- and it's the military, whose duty keeps them from giving in to the delayers and deniers:

"Congress recognized these benefits in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 which imposed no renewable energy requirements on the regulated utilities, but required power serving the military to reach 7.5% renewable content by 2013. The Army and Navy voluntarily upped the ante by pledging to be 25% renewable by 2020. Congress then adopted the 25% requirement in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2007 (10 U.S.C.S. Section 2911(e)).

Although the ambitious renewable energy standard for the military was a bipartisan effort by Congress (it passed the Senate by unanimous consent), the same institution seems unable to adopt even a watered-down renewable content standard for the rest of the nation. What is the difference? Strong opposition to the national standard from electric utilities – especially those in states that appear less well-endowed with renewable resources. So, as the Senate refuses to vote out a national renewable energy standard, it’s not that the individual members don’t “get it”. More than anything else, it’s that certain powerful electric utilities don’t want it."

恭v秋昀嘉 said...
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