Case For the Anthropocene? Megafauna, Ice Ages and Man-Made Deserts

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tags: Anthropocene



Last year a group of scientists declared that mankind had entered a new epoch – the Anthropocene. The Working Group on the Anthropocene, which formed in 2009, stated that mankind’s effect on the earth had become so profound, a new geological epoch had to be declared, one which started in 1950 and marked the end of the Holocene – the 12,000 years of stable global climate that had begun with the thawing of the last ice age.

Ever since the idea of the Anthropocene was first conceived in the 1980s, it has sparked intense debate, embroiled in the passionate conflict between environmentalists and climate change deniers. Whether one believes we’re living in the Anthropocene or not, there are many examples in history where mankind could be seen to have had a profound impact on the climates and ecosystems of our planet.

Some scholars have suggested that humans started making irreversible changes to the planet as far back as ten thousand years ago. When humanity first started to spread across the globe spectacular megafauna inhabited the continents, from Wooly Mammoths in the Northern Hemisphere to giant kangaroos in Australia. Many of these creatures are now extinct, with scientists debating intensely whether this was the result of human activity – such as hunting or competition for food, the drastic climate change at the end of the Ice Age; or a mixture of both

If these mass extinctions were driven by humans, it would signify a massive, permanent change to the planet’s ecosystems.




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