Extraordinary human energy consumption and resultant geological impacts beginning around 1950 CE initiated the proposed Anthropocene Epoch

Jaia Syvitski and colleagues discuss how growth in fundamental drivers—energy use, economic productivity and population—can provide quantitative indications of the proposed boundary between the Holocene Epoch and the Anthropocene. 
Increases in human productivity support larger populations that consume higher levels of energy and materials that in turn support increases in productivity. The harnessing of fossil fuels has allowed humans to apply this excess in available energy beyond simple food production and survival. As a result, the growth rate in human population increased rapidly, peaking during the mid-20th century, as did the associated rates of energy consumption and productivity. The result has been the mid-20th century ‘Great Acceleration’ when humanity began to dominate many of the planetary cycles. Human energy expenditure in the Anthropocene, ~22 zetajoules (ZJ), exceeds that across the prior 11,700 years of the Holocene (~14.6 ZJ), largely through combustion of fossil fuels. The global warming effect during the Anthropocene is more than an order of magnitude greater still. Global human population, their productivity and energy consumption, and most changes impacting the global environment, are highly correlated. This extraordinary outburst of consumption and productivity demonstrates how the Earth System has departed from its Holocene state since ~1950 CE, forcing abrupt physical, chemical and biological changes to the Earth’s stratigraphic record that can be used to justify the proposal for naming a new epoch—the Anthropocene.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger.




Trending Topics

planthro projects