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Anthropocene I and II – the human footprint
The current era on our Globe has its own name now. It is called anthropocene, and refers to the ever lasting footprint that humankind is making on the history of the planet. Just like the preceding era did, like for instance the Jurassic, made famous by the films of Steven Spielberg about the long era of the dinosaurs that finally disappeared into history.
An era is defined because it left a lasting series of marking on the planet that can be researched by different scientific specialties, s.a. geology, archaeology, biologic, botany, astrology, climatology, etc. etc. In the many layers of deposits that can be studied specific events define the era. Often a time-era was started or ended by a specific event, such a sudden climate change, an ice age, geological events or specific things that occurred that showed up in the layers of our soil, a scar on the face of our planet. Never a particular era was attributed to one single species, until now.
Anthropocene is the age that the influences of humankind on Earth are so remarkably visible that it is expected to remain present for ever in future, no matter what happens to our species. It is significant because in a very short period of time our species has managed to destroy the habitat of many other living species and polluted in many ways the Earth’s soil and atmosphere.
This era is not really one to be very proud of. As a natural phenomena the human species has been extraordinarily destructive and aggressive. The question arises why? The species is blessed with a level of self-consciousness that got us to become dominant over other species but also reflective about our own scientific and spiritual awareness of the effects of our existence on Earth. Why would a species that has such a high awareness remain so destructive for its own surroundings, up to a possible point of auto-destruction?
It is very difficult to accept that nature would evolve into a higher level of cognitive reflection and self awareness if such abilities were no advantage at all for the species itself. Aggression for survival is perfectly acceptable for a species living in a state of natural chaos, among equals that challenge each other in their quest for a living. Fear is a natural defense mechanism to remain alert for danger. But when a species reaches a point of dominance, setting the environment to its own hand, without any other danger than itself and the largest forces of the Universe, one would expect that fear is replaced by wisdom and trust in its own abilities? Why then would humankind leave such devastating footprint on its habitat? Why would we not become respective with the only remaining challenge: our universal habitat, accepting our dependence, not our sense of unjust or blind superiority?
When we place ourselves in an imaginary point in future, as an archaeologist studying this particular era of Anthropocene, we would be surprised with the amount of pollution and a totally different biological life before, during and after this era. The layer underneath would be a point of biological reference for the subsequent layers, just like we do now when analyzing the evolution of all species. The layer above however shows important signs of the presence of the human era in all remains of species including the human being itself. Sicknesses such as cancer, HIV, unique forms of hepatitis, lung and heart problems, etc. remain visible in fosils for a long time, just like the genetic disorder that started during the era of nuclear and fine dust pollution, affecting many species, including the ones to come. Many species disappeared all together disrupting the ecological equilibrium to such extend that it affected humankind itself causing massive illness, periods of hunger, war among the populations, etc. Such discoveries, together with the obvious signs of scientific and general intellect, would leave anyone with the question how a species could be so bright and so selfishly stupid at the same time?
There is of course also another reading possible. Are we arriving right now at a point of singularity, a point at which an evolutionary lifestyle comes to a sudden exponential peak and collapses? Will this point mark the initiation of a second human era, Anthropocene II? The first era being destructive as humankind still was busy shaking off its animal behavior of hoarding, territorial aggression, fear for scarcities and tribal protection? And the second one representing a genuine breakthrough into a new level of consciousness that announces the true birth of a unique species that has left its animal genetic origins definitely behind and established a new spiritual order without precedent in universal history, the next evolutionary step of humankind?
If that is indeed about to occur (or occurring right now, as I claim in my books and professional activities) how would the event be marked in the history of our planet and visualized through the permanent markings? The negative effects of Anthropocene I cannot be eliminated but the Athropocene II should become clearly visible as a sudden change in our own lifestyle, surroundings and the effects on other species around this new humankind? Will the point of singularity show as a sudden total collapse of current humankind? With the expected reduction of the population by 75% (Club of Rome)? Or will it be a gradual but fast period of awareness that shows no massive death but a sudden peaceful change in global attitude? Or will humankind remain in Anthropocene I and disappear with it for ever into the history of the planet leaving its signs for ever but no further biological continuation?
The latter seams unlikely to me because it would be a waste of the evolutionary break through of the higher awareness. Yet this breakthrough can happen again, also in other species. Clear for me is that we have arrived today at this unique point of singularity. It is a breaking point. What got us to the breaking point is clear and understood. What will happen now is in our own hands but what will the outcome be? That remains the huge query that needs to cristalize throughout the coming decades.
Sustainocracy (my own definition of sustainable human progress) is Anthropocene II but will it break through? Will it get a chance to flourish? Or will something else, equally Anthropocene II? Or will it die a death along with our persistence to maintain Anthropocene I? The Anthropocene will have existed but not visible enough to become dominant.
Time will tell.