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Bittersweet Anthropocene

Bittersweet Anthropocene

University orientation days are mostly exciting and fun, the flood of experiences and situations makes it harder to hold on. I geared my mind to implement an open door policy and let the ideas flow through with least resistance.  On the first day I was hit with the word Anthropocene, it was new and a simple word but as I delved deeper into its meaning it became difficult to comprehend. It was an anxiety inducing rabbit hole; now here I am writing about it.

The word was born of the Greek word ‘Anthropo’ meaning human. It defines the immense influence that the human species has had on the global biosphere in the last century. Officially, we still are in the Holocene epoch, we have been here for the last ten thousand years since the advent of agriculture. The earth’s climate has stayed marginally steady as compared to the previous epochs but since we have been aggressively tinkering with the climate in the last century, we might eventually shift the balance and commence the newly predicted epoch.

As of yet, Anthropocene still is an unofficial term and the debate for its status rages on. Personally I’ve come to believe that it does successfully distinguish our era that is truly unprecedented in the history of planet earth.

The exact time of its beginnings are debated, some consider it to be the times of industrial revolution while others support the moment when nuclear fission was first conducted. Since the times of industrial revolution, a cascade of inventions and applications of various sciences were implemented. It was the moment when the world recognized the far reaching potential of science and gave it its unrivalled place as one of the universal truths. I don’t know if there are any others but I better keep the debate open for discussion.

This event created a snowball effect that triggered a rush for resources. Civilizations collided and clambered for the ownership of resources, meanwhile the collateral damage to nature and humanity was mostly overlooked. This tendency to survive and be the fittest led to a chaos and today we are dealing with the consequences. But, while humanity was busy dealing with the questions of gaining resources they also formed global trade and financial organisations, global communication, educational research institutes. Exchange of resources brought the world closer and this ultimately transformed the whole of humanity into a single united cooperating entity.

Since then, collective learning has been rising exponentially. This steep rise will heighten our potential to understand the world around and help us gain a perspective which could work as a catalyst to come together and understand our place in the natural order.

In the two hundred and fifty thousand year of human history this level of growth and expansion has never been experienced by planet Earth. It is fascinating to imagine that you and the last three generation of your family have lived in the most interesting times ever.

The collective governance of humans has borne fruit in the form of human rights, awareness of the environment and multiple aspects of our society. The inventions we collectively made over the last century are capable of providing food security and energy security to the entirety of the human populations. Sustaining a population of seven billion is a herculean task and we are capable of doing it. The only question is if we can sustain this ascension while continuing to exploit the Earth by conventional means.

An inspiring example of collective human decision making happened on the 16th of November 2018, when the constants of kilogram, ampere, mole and kelvin were redefined based on the fundamental constants of nature and not on physical artefacts. Such decisions are constantly pulling humanity together and amplifying our collective potential. Recent discoveries of massive black holes, gravitational waves or the discovery of the elusive Higgs boson have far reaching consequences and are at the pinnacle of human achievement. The obliviousness of the general human population towards them is concerning or could the reason just might be the age we live in and the way it has made us impervious to understanding change.

The most difficult part here after is to recognize the waves we are sailing on and predict which way this proverbial ship would sail, at least we have a bigger rudder now. A consensus is one of the most powerful concepts that make us human and this new age needs to be defined by it.


Historic Vote Ties Kilogram and Other Units to Natural Constants




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