Mankind's unprecedented transformation of Earth

Mankind’s unprecedented transformation of Earth
Anthropocene biosphere cattle. Credit: University of Leicester

Human beings are pushing the planet in an entirely new direction with revolutionary implications for its life, a new study by researchers at the University of Leicester has suggested.

The research team led by Professor Mark Williams from the University of Leicester's Department of Geology has published their findings in a new paper entitled 'The Anthropocene Biosphere' in The Anthropocene Review.

Professor Jan Zalasiewicz from the University of Leicester's Department of Geology who was involved in the study explained the research: "We are used to seeing headlines daily about environmental crises: global warming, , pollution of all kinds, looming extinctions. These changes are advancing so rapidly, that the concept that we are living in a new geological period of time, the Anthropocene Epoch – proposed by the Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen - is now in wide currency, with new and distinctive rock strata being formed that will persist far into the future.

"But what is really new about this chapter in Earth history, the one we're living through? Episodes of , ocean acidification and mass extinction have all happened before, well before humans arrived on the planet. We wanted to see if there was something different about what is happening now."

The team examined what makes the Anthropocene special and different from previous crises in Earth's history. They identified four key changes:

  • The homogenisation of species around the world through mass, human-instigated species invasions – nothing on this global scale has happened before
  • One species, Homo sapiens, is now in effect the top predator on land and in the sea, and has commandeered for its use over a quarter of global biological productivity. There has never been a single species of such reach and power previously
  • There is growing direction of evolution of other species by Homo sapiens
  • There is growing interaction of the biosphere with the 'technosphere' – a concept pioneered by one of the team members, Professor Peter Haff of Duke University - the sum total of all human-made manufactured machines and objects, and the systems that control them
Mankind’s unprecedented transformation of Earth
Japanese Garden in Kyoto, a very visible way in which humans 'Anthropocise' the biosphere. Credit: University of Leicester

In total, the team suggests that these changes represent a planetary transformation as fundamental as the one that saw the evolution of the photosynthetic microbes which oxygenated the planet 2.4 billion years ago, or that saw the transition from a microbial Earth to one dominated by multicellular organisms half a billion years ago.

Professor Williams added: "We think of major changes to the biosphere as the big extinction events, like that which finished off the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous Period. But the changes happening to the biosphere today may be much more significant, and uniquely are driven by the actions of one , humans."


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Did the Anthropocene begin with the nuclear age?

More information: The Anthropocene biosphere, anr.sagepub.com/content/early/ … 19615591020.abstract
Citation: Mankind's unprecedented transformation of Earth (2015, June 29) retrieved 20 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-06-mankind-unprecedented-earth.html
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Jun 29, 2015
It is time to educate the conservatives.

Jun 29, 2015
Yes, sounds like 80 year old news to me.
This just in: Germany has invaded France via Belgium, in retaliation to an assassination.

Jun 29, 2015
This reminds me of the Buffalocene, when buffaloes were carving the prairie ecosystem as the dominant influence in that part.

Jun 29, 2015
Species homogenization may be the biggest threat to current life on the planet. Diversity ensures that whatever happens, there is likely something out there that can survive and thrive. A lack of such diversity makes life more susceptible to disease and climate/ecosystem changes.

Jun 29, 2015
Oops, gave a one instead of the desired three. When we mix, we understand each other better. And blended families look better, I think. They also "dilute" troublesome genes, which can cause problems if both partners have them.

It is an overall benefit to Humanity for us to mix.

Jun 29, 2015
Gkam: mix=reproduce. Humans are all one species. Such mixing is therefore superficial, and not distinct, in terms of creating quality deviant from any norm. Such products are not better people, but average people. Your idea is good for trolling racists, but worthless to the ecologist.

In fact, the question posed is whether all this reproduction is beneficial for humanity- above and beyond anyone's simple declarative statement proposing that it is so.

Because I for one, see nothing of benefit to me in the proliferation of all-consuming, ravenous humans that are crowding out every other form of large terrestrial (and aquatic) life, and doing so in conspicuously careless fashion.

Of course, it makes us feel good to say good things, to believe that there is some greater good, or believe that apparent problems aren't problems, but blessings in disguise. What is that but self-deception?

Jun 29, 2015
What is your point? We went from mixing to population growth, two different things.

If you don't like it, don't reproduce. We have ZPG in my household - we only produced our replacements.

Jun 30, 2015
Oops, gave a one instead of the desired three. When we mix, we understand each other better. And blended families look better, I think. They also "dilute" troublesome genes, which can cause problems if both partners have them.

It is an overall benefit to Humanity for us to mix.


Short-term benefits only, based on my understanding... we do benefit physically from genetic diversity in reproduction. The problem is, if you play homogenization all the way out, suddenly there is no more diversity. Everyone is susceptible to the same things. Having isolated pools, adapting to local diseases and conditions, ensures long-term survival.

Jul 04, 2015
As I get old I have started to look at people from an engineering perspective:
One race several adaptations: The obvious physical one, for example-color; darker skinned people are increasing able to radiate heat while in the shade. As opposed to the misconception that pigment is better for resisting the Sun.
Eyes are adapted to light conditions.

and so on.

Mixing as you say, is an effective hybridization mechanism... in nature if two physically adapted peoples interacted, it would usually be in a geographic region requiring both traits. Nature gives offspring both.

Jul 07, 2015
As I get old I have started to look at people from an engineering perspective:
One race several adaptations: The obvious physical one, for example-color; darker skinned people are increasing able to radiate heat while in the shade.
That is simply not true .. Emissivity is wavelength dependent, and all humans have effectively the same emissivity in the infrared region of the spectrum (i.e. the one important for cooling), irrespective of skin pigmentation.
As opposed to the misconception that pigment is better for resisting the Sun.
It's not a "misconception", it's the scientific hypothesis considered most likely to be correct, since it is undeniable that darker skin blocks more UV in the surface layers, protecting deeper layers from radiation damage.

Jul 07, 2015
Oops, gave a one instead of the desired three.

Not your fault.
Inbreeding does manifest such undesirable traits.

Jul 08, 2015
DarkLordKeliven once again demonstrates complete ignorance despite claiming an in-depth education.

Somehow he thinks that if I put a substance around something that reflects energy; say something white, it will have the same properties as something that absorbs energy, like something black.

Somehow he doesn't know a good absorber is a good emitter.
Somehow he doesn't know that men in hot climates do not spend much time in the Sun if they can avoid it.
Somehow he does not understand that the principle difference between silvered/insulating surfaced and white surfaces it that metallic surfaced reflect light coherently, while something white reflects the same amount, but diffused.

And somehow he won't be embarrassed. Let's celebrate his education!

Jul 08, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Jul 08, 2015
"We should be warned before lighthearted replacement of existing technologies with these "renewable" ones (like the cattle illustrated at the above picture), because these technologies can work only at substantially lower population density, where their negative effects to life environment can dissolve."
----------------------------------------

Yes, this laughing all the way to alternative energy has to stop! docile knows better than the economists, engineers, managers, and operators of these facilities!

He should be the prime source for our information, . . so we do not have to go to breitbart.

Jul 08, 2015
Somehow he thinks that if I put a substance around something that reflects energy; say something white, it will have the same properties as something that absorbs energy, like something black.
What? I never implied that?
Somehow he doesn't know a good absorber is a good emitter.
Actually, I said as much in my post, adding the important detail that it is only true AT A GIVEN WAVELENGTH! The effect you claim requires different absorptivities in the UV and visible spectrum, which is valid, but ALSO requires different emissivities in the infrared, which is not valid. All humans have essentially the same infrared emissivity, and so radiatively cool at the same rate, keeping other factors like skin temperature and perspiration constant.
Somehow he doesn't know that men in hot climates do not spend much time in the Sun if they can avoid it.
What does that have to do with anything? Also, what did your random point about specular and diffuse reflection have to do with anything?

Jul 11, 2015
Sorry, Ducklord, you have points, but as usual you hid the reasons.

The similarities between race are due the the character of water, not skin color. Water is a near perfect thermal absorber/emitter.

Unless of course we are talking about the atmosphere, right? Physics stops working suddenly in the atmosphere, because it is convenient.

I don't know how you came off "ignore," anyway.

Jul 11, 2015
Sorry, Ducklord, you have points, but as usual you hid the reasons.
A typically vague, insulting and useless statement from you.
The similarities between race are due the the character of water, not skin color.
I never claimed anything about skin color .. YOU did.
Water is a near perfect thermal absorber/emitter.
Yes, which matters because there is a lot of water in human skin .. there are also a lot of other chemical components that are the same between races, and of course the pigment molecules themselves (only a tiny fraction) also have the same emissivity in the IR.

In other words, I didn't "hide" anything .. as is typical, you made a bogus claim, and I corrected it, pointing out the precise scientific reasons why your claim was incorrect. You responded initially with insults, and then, once you realized I was right, tried to "counter-correct" me with a statement that was already part of my explanation. Dunning-Kruger to the max, man.

Jul 11, 2015
I always respond with insults, usually about your education or logic, then once I realize you are correct, try to counter correct you with your own explanations.

But that's only because I like to show just how intelligent you are. If I didn't do this, how else would you have the opportunity to make such convoluted backpedals?

I especially liked how you corrected me with exponents-I recently made a publication about exponents, BTW, which makes it very funny to me personally. No, nothing Earth shattering, just a novel application of their well understood properties-which you claim I don't understand. I suppose you want me to prove it, I suppose I will, once it reaches the public, if you remind me.

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