Humans affect Earth system more than natural forces

February 13, 2017
The Anthropocene equation: E is the Earth system; A is astronomical forces; G is geophysical forces; I is internal dynamics; and H is industrialised societies. Credit: Australian National University

Humans are causing the climate to change 170 times faster than natural forces, new research co-led by The Australian National University (ANU) has found.

Co-researcher Professor Will Steffen from ANU said the study for the first time came up with a to describe the impact of human activity on the Earth system, known as the Anthropocene equation.

"Over the past 7,000 years the primary forces driving change have been astronomical - changes in solar intensity and subtle changes in orbital parameters, along with a few volcanoes. They have driven a rate of change of 0.01 degrees Celsius per century," said Professor Steffen, from the Fenner School of Environment and Society and the Climate Change Institute at ANU.

"Human-caused greenhouse gas emissions over the past 45 years have increased the rate of temperature rise to 1.7 degrees Celsius per century, dwarfing the natural background rate."

The paper published in The Anthropocene Review examines the Earth system as a single complex system and assesses the impact of human activities on the system's trajectory.

"We are not saying the astronomical forces of our solar system or geological processes have disappeared, but in terms of their impact in such a short period of time they are now negligible compared with our own influence," Professor Steffen said.

"Crystallising this evidence in the form of a simple equation gives the current situation a clarity that the wealth of data often dilutes.

"It also places the contemporary human impact in the context of the great forces of nature that have driven Earth system dynamics over billions of years."

Professor Steffen said humanity still had a chance to prevent catastrophic climate change, but time was rapidly running out.

"The global economy can function equally well with zero emissions. Research shows we can feed nine billion people - the projected world population by 2050 - and reduce at the same time," he said.

Explore further: Carbon levy could limit impact of climate change, study suggests

More information: Owen Gaffney et al. The Anthropocene equation, The Anthropocene Review (2017). DOI: 10.1177/2053019616688022

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FactsReallyMatter
2.1 / 5 (22) Feb 13, 2017
The climate of earth is a exceptionally complex system. We are just starting to glimpse some of the individual factors, we certainly haven't any real amount of data on the vast majority, and no clue on how they truly interact with each other.

Any real scientist would acknowledge this, and make a clear statement on the difficulty we already encounter when trying to model systems with several fewer orders of magnitude of complexity.

But no, the AGW cult has declared the science settled and that it all boils down to one variable - man-made CO2.

What an utter load of BS!
entrance
1.6 / 5 (8) Feb 13, 2017
We don't need mathematical equations. It is sufficient to have a look at Google maps and click the Earth-button. Then you can see cities and fields almost wherever people can live. And we all know all the other problems caused by human overpopulation. Every week futher shocking news. That's why i always write that we should try to reduce the world population. I think 3 or 4 billion people should be our goal.
CCMcCombs
2.2 / 5 (13) Feb 13, 2017
I really dislike how the authors treated natural variability and fluctuations as negligible (0). It makes zero sense, how can you completely rule out the natural climate system? And not to mention the grossly simplified equations that hold little empirical value. This whole thing was a thought experiment.
rderkis
3.2 / 5 (9) Feb 13, 2017
Just out of curiosity isn't man a natural force or is man artificial?
danR
1.8 / 5 (10) Feb 13, 2017
170 times over a FLAT T/time slope 15-year average for atmospheric temperature can't be that much of an influence.
antialias_physorg
3.9 / 5 (14) Feb 13, 2017
I really dislike how the authors treated natural variability and fluctuations as negligible

Since they didn't what's your point? They say explicitly that natural variability has not diappeared in the article. They just show that it's nowhere near in order of magnitude compared to man-made influences to be used as an excuse.
cantdrive85
2.2 / 5 (17) Feb 13, 2017
That's why i always write that we should try to reduce the world population. I think 3 or 4 billion people should be our goal.

Instead of continuing to be a part of the problem do something about it with action. Start with your useless parents, siblings, wife/children, then move onto your useless extended family and in-laws etc. Kill them all, and then show your dedication to your twisted views and eat a bullet yourself. That should be your goal, set the example to others for your eugenic depopulation program. Remember, eugenics/depopulation starts at home. We'd obviously be better off without you and your people anyway.
rodkeh
2.1 / 5 (15) Feb 13, 2017
Just more baseless fear mongering. Humans have no effect on climate.
antialias_physorg
4.2 / 5 (15) Feb 13, 2017
Just more baseless fear mongering. Humans have no effect on climate.

Speaking of baseless...My irony-meter just exploded.
antigoracle
2.3 / 5 (16) Feb 13, 2017
Seriously???
This is what AGW Cult FAKE "science" has descended to. At least when they were cooking the data, I could appreciate their dedication, since that took some effort. But this is just effortless comedy.
rodkeh
1.9 / 5 (14) Feb 13, 2017
(part 2)
The instantaneous temperature at any place on the planet and at any point in time, is the net result of the combined effects of Sun, cloud cover, local terrain, local vegetation etc. etc. etc...... climate is only one tiny aspect of the ambient temperature. Not to mention the fact that, all those variables are constantly changing from second to second. To even suggest that temperature data is in any way meaningful in terms of climate is, quite simply, stupid! The influence of climate on temperature data is indistinguishable from the dozens of other factors influencing any individual reading. To suggest that throwing it all into one pot and just rendering it down actually means something, is completely devoid of reason. A completely ignorant and meaningless exercise, how stupid can they get? And then they wave it in all our faces as if it is written in stone and infallible. What boundless hubris!
antialias_physorg
4.7 / 5 (14) Feb 13, 2017
The instantaneous temperature at any place on the planet and at any point in time, is the net result of the combined effects of Sun, cloud cover, local terrain, local vegetation etc. etc. etc....

Erm..you don't really know what the word 'climate' means, do you? Or how statistics work?

Jeez...every uneducated rodent thinks he's entitled to an opinion nowadays on par with people who've actually gone to school.
rodkeh
2.1 / 5 (15) Feb 13, 2017
There is no science behind climate science.
The very notion that anything of any value can be derived from the arithmetical reduction of global temperature data, is completely naive and totally lacking in any scientific basis! It is obviously the product of non-scientists, or as they call themselves, Climate Scientists. Meteorology is not science and never will be, because meteorology is the antithesis of science and science is incomprehensible to the minds of meteorologists.
The temperature data referred to, is the instantaneous measurement of ambient temperature at weather stations around the globe, although those stations are so very erratically and unevenly spaced so as to be anything but representational of the true global picture.
NOAA would have we ignorant and gullible masses believe that the temperature data is a direct measurement of "climate." How idiotic and simple minded! (These people are what the gullible public believe are scientists.) (continued)
rodkeh
1.4 / 5 (11) Feb 13, 2017
The instantaneous temperature at any place on the planet and at any point in time, is the net result of the combined effects of Sun, cloud cover, local terrain, local vegetation etc. etc. etc....

Erm..you don't really know what the word 'climate' means, do you? Or how statistics work?

Jeez...every uneducated rodent thinks he's entitled to an opinion nowadays on par with people who've actually gone to school.

Talk about ignorant!
rodkeh
1.4 / 5 (11) Feb 13, 2017
Just more baseless fear mongering. Humans have no effect on climate.

Speaking of baseless...My irony-meter just exploded.


Oh look at that, my idiot meter just exploded!
Solon
2.2 / 5 (13) Feb 13, 2017
"This is what AGW Cult FAKE "science" has descended to."

And this site is now so obviously pushing AGW even harder now that Trump has spoken that it will too descend lower. Anyone know of a totally unbiased science news site?
ddaye
2 / 5 (8) Feb 13, 2017
Anyone know of a totally unbiased science news site?

Try Christian Science.
ddaye
2.8 / 5 (13) Feb 13, 2017
we certainly haven't any real ... clue

Correct, you climate science deniers do indeed have no clue.
geokstr
1.7 / 5 (12) Feb 13, 2017
we certainly haven't any real ... clue

Correct, you climate science deniers do indeed have no clue.


What a perfect illustration of the deceptive editing used by leftists, including the entire media. to twist the words of unbelievers in their Collective hive-mind to mean the opposite of what was intended. Illustrations can easily be found literally every day, and are chronicled all over the internet. This is the "fake" and "fake but accurate" "news" the left is screaming about while being the main perpetrator of it themselves.
Blitzer
3.9 / 5 (14) Feb 14, 2017
Rodkeh.... I can't believe your ridiculous claim that meteorologists aren't scientists. Come on tell us what a meteorologist does. Do you know the difference between a climatologist or a meteorologist?

Otherwise what you sound like is a bitter person that couldn't pass all the science and math classes and had to drop out of college. Or the National Weather Service didn't hire you on did they? Or you don't know what you're talking about. Go to your local National Weather Service office. They give tours.
manfredparticleboard
3 / 5 (10) Feb 14, 2017
Bitter fist waving loons, who find the concept of anything other than themselves or their opinions, offensive and threatening. Unless it's a mythological sky daddy telling them how important they are. Science and it's methods are bigger than your 'common sense', and your opinions are as empty as your reasoning. Attaching notions of Leftism or liberalism to science is just unanchored in reality; weird swivel eyed hand wringing conspiratorial ideation.
FactsReallyMatter
1.7 / 5 (12) Feb 14, 2017
The only ones waving fists are the AGW cultists trying to scare us into living in caves and dying by 30.

Wave harder, maybe you'll hit your neighbor.
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (6) Feb 14, 2017
Anyone know of a totally unbiased science news site?

Try Christian Science.

Yeah. Christian science. A science where the bias is already openly stated in the title. Sounds like a totally legit way to get unbiased science [/sarcasm]

There is no science behind climate science.

Then please define - in SPECIFIC terms - what science is in your opinion. Then we can set you right.

, although those stations are so very erratically and unevenly spaced so as to be anything but representational of the true global picture.

As noted: you don't really know how statistical sampling works (or how even unevenly spaced samples can give very robust results), do you? It's pretty ridiculous just spouting out assertations when you very obviously know diddly squat about a subject.

Google for 'german tank problem'. It works. It's just math (but I know. That's this newfangled thing called e-du-ca-shun. Must be evil)
gkam
1.5 / 5 (8) Feb 14, 2017
No cave here, "Facts", just clean power for my house and automobile.

I have it, and it works, saving me $3000 last year alone. This year gasoline is going up, so we will save even more.

What do you use? Power from grossly-polluting coal?
Mark Thomas
3.3 / 5 (7) Feb 14, 2017
"The only ones waving fists are the AGW cultists trying to scare us into living in caves and dying by 30."

Somebody should let the Koch brothers know you are not doing as well as the other shills. Maybe you could offer them a discount for your weaker-than-average rants? Unfortunately for you, driving an electric car like a Tesla, installing LED lights and using solar panels in the same homes we live in now is not living in a cave. It is exactly the opposite. I expect a better made, faster car (Tesla 3 on order). My LED lights save me money now and some come with a remote for controlling color. Solar panels will save me money in the long run and enhance the value of my home. My wealth is increasing at the expense of Big Oil!

What I want to know is when are people going to hold the Republican Party accountable for DECADES of lying about this? Instead of addressing Global Warming, they use idiotic deniers to try to create confusion about something that is an obvious problem.
gkam
1.5 / 5 (8) Feb 14, 2017
"Solar panels will save me money in the long run and enhance the value of my home. My wealth is increasing at the expense of Big Oil!"
------------------------------------

They pay off in the short term, in many cases. Ours will pay off in four years, then give us free power for the house and car for decades. Last year, we saved $3000 with a $12,400 PV system.
FactsReallyMatter
2.1 / 5 (7) Feb 15, 2017
"They pay off in the short term, in many cases. Ours will pay off in four years, then give us free power for the house and car for decades. Last year, we saved $3000 with a $12,400 PV system.


You are like those spammers that want to tell me how I can earn 7000$ a day by working at home.
gkam
1.7 / 5 (6) Feb 15, 2017
I'm not selling anything but the idea. It is free to you.

It is not anything special, but it is a sign we are already here. There are no excuses anymore.

leDendrite
5 / 5 (1) Feb 18, 2017
Ecosystem Engineer is a biological term that describes any organism that significantly alters its environment. people are clearly profound ecosystem engineers, unique in that some of us are aware of the sum of our actions, but perhaps not very unique in group outcome. we are like the yeast in the wort, consuming all the sugar and creating a environment no longer conducive to our biology.
Space weather is an additional and external factor.
We must quickly become responsible and effective ecosystem engineers if we are to have a future without a population crash and one in which we can adapt and live symbiotically and sustainably in our ever changing and dynamic environment.
gkam
1 / 5 (5) Feb 18, 2017
It is time to stop fouling our nest.

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