The natural world on our planet arose from the planet’s formation some 4.5 billion years ago as gravity led to the coalescence of cosmic material that came together to orbit around the Sun, the star. The material formed into the solid. liquid and gaseous ‘spheres’ around the spherical surface of the orbiting planet:
- GEOSPHERE: hydrosphere; lithosphere; atmosphere; cryosphere -from this material world, some one billion years later organic, self-replicating life emerged in the hydrosphere to start the long evolutionary growth of the web of life:
- BIOSPHERE: all life forms and multi-level ecosystems . Recently the human species homo sapiens evolved with the capacity of consciousness and language that was able to modify the planet in an explosive expansion of:
- ‘MACHINE WORLD’: technosphere ; memosphere (the world of ‘memes’ – information and culture) and the recent cybersphere
This website is concerned with the impact of the newly arrived Machine World (driven by the memosphere) upon the Natural World (geosphere & biosphere). This section of the website contains items that concern the natural environment that is now undergoing great change as a result of the impact of the human-created technosphere and memosphere. The impact has led us (now made official) to refer to our present geological era as the Anthropocene Era – the era in which human activity has become the major force shaping the planet’s surface; Critique of the ‘brand’ Anthropocene; 12 relevant books; Orlov “Shrinking the Technosphere”;
ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT – an interview with William Rees, the originator of the EF analysis, an ecological economist. Global average hectares explained – 1.7 gha available globally to support human production, consumpton and waste. Economic activity is not decoupling from land ecosystems. Carbon = single most human waste by weight that cannot be absorbed by natural carbon sinks. China’s impact worldwide;
OVERSHOOT – the degree to which the natural world’s carrying capacity cannot sustain human population and consumption. Due to the unprecedented growth made possible by cheap fossil fuel energy. There are no available renewable alternatives to meet current demand.
ANTHROPOCENE (30 min. documentary video from Australia featuring Will Steffen – excellent introduction) 50 min. lecture by Will Steffen – “The Great Acceleration” (2015) earth as a single complex system – post-1950 massive rich world (18% popn.) impact (74% consumption of ‘stuff’ = TAKE-MAKE-USE-DUMP); Malm book review;
WHAT IS ‘PROGRESS’ in the Anthropocene Epoch? – this podcast features Richard Heinberg author of “There’s no app for that” which queries the possibility of technological solutions to global crises. Heinberg is at the Post Carbon Institute.
LOSS OF BIODIVERSITY – the shocking loss of wildlife on the planet due to human activity. And new research reveals ‘armageddon’ risk as insect populations decline massively. Impact of loss of biodiversity – the hidden crisis. Biodiversity loss – 12 books reviewed; Sixth Mass Extinction now underway – biosphere now experiencing collapse of biodiversity due to human activity in the Anthropocene, marked since 1990. Species loss (E.O.Wilson); MAHB diminishing resources; Pesticides – catastrophe for birds; Cutting off the branch of the tree of life;‘Bugpocalypse’; WWF Report 60% vertebrate extinction since 1970; Insect Apocalypse; Is biological annihilation a greater threat than climate change?;
SEA LEVEL RISE – ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ approaches: the former is about building man-made (Machine World) barriers; the latter about designing with nature (Natural World) bio-ecological solutions that will be self-sustaining. Flood of books on sea level rise; New Concerns about Antarctic Ice Shelf and the loss of sea ice in the Arctic.
POLLUTION: PLASTICS GALORE; Plastics – David Attenborough plea; WWF video (1 min.) Plastics disposal – a major challenge; Microbeads – plastics being banned; 10 sources of microbeads; Human junk in space – a new sphere of space debris in the stratosphere grows rapidly to extend human impact; Mercury pollution; Ocean suffocation; Plastic in deep water fish; The footprint of globalisation; Sceptical view on plastic pollution; Organophosphates; How to give up plastic – book review
SOIL DEGRADATION: UK initiative to renew degraded soils; One third earth’s soils degraded; Feed the microbes;
POSITIVE ENVIRONMENTAL DEVELOPMENTS – UK electricity ; EU plastics ban Oct 2018; Electric food; UK renewable capacity greater than fossil fuels 2018; Earth’s ozone layer healing; 250 million e-bikes in China; Reforestation & Rewilding;
FUTURE – Tectonic shift scenarios