In geological terms, we’re currently living in the Holocene stage of the Earth’s existence; a period of time when all the elements have proven most beneficial to our species. But our unfettered growth has left a massive footprint upon our planet, and its ramifications may soon usher in a new geological epoch. Anthropocene, a short documentary produced by the ABC-TV Catalyst series, examines the characteristics and the consequences of this oncoming age.
From singular events such as the first nuclear weapons test of 1945 to the unprecedented industrialization that’s occurred in nearly every region of the world, our Earth has undergone more rampant change in recent times than any other period in its history. As revealed in the film, the CO2 levels in our atmosphere have risen 100 times faster than they did at the conclusion of the last Ice Age. The end result could bring about a transformation of the very structure of our planet, and one that may present overwhelming obstacles in our quest to survive and flourish.
Geologists call it The Anthropocene, and they can recognize the signs of its imminent arrival all around them. In a far reaching study coordinated between dozens of nations around the world, scientists tracked various aspects of human activity in comparison to the functions of Earth’s systems. The research project collected data as far back as 1750 and continued right up to our present day. What they discovered was shocking. The Earth’s ability to maintain balance was surprisingly unfazed until the birth of the post-war industrial revolution, at which point its instability began to skyrocket.
“We are in the beginnings of a transition to something else,” one scientist ominously proclaims during the course of the film. Earth scientists didn’t come to this conclusion lightly; in fact, such a proclamation requires overwhelming and irrefutable evidence of a change to the surface of our planet. Just in the past 60 years, unprecedented human consumption, along with increased atmospheric levels of CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, lead and other elements, have conspired to alter the physical and functional characteristics of the Earth.
In the midst of the climate change debate, Anthropocene examines the crisis facing our planet from a fresh perspective not often considered by the mainstream. It’s a valuable reminder that the human footprint could ultimately prove more devastating to our planet than Mother Nature herself.