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009_ Essay: welcome to the anthropocene

04 November, 2020 - 5 min read

009_ Essay: welcome to the anthropocene

If you so choose to listen to this and the two episodes that follow, they are the start of an ongoing arch on the Anthropocene.

The Anthropocene, is the scientific label for the age in which we live.

An age, that if looked at in a fossil record, or as one of my guests puts it, as aliens from above, we can see a drastic change from homo sapien activity.

That all of the land and ocean, not just the 30% we are actively farming, the 2% where we live in cities, but all of it, is either directly or indirectly influenced by homo sapiens.

I want this arch to be a perspective on a different ways to view and frame the moment in which we live, or what we take for granted.

Like nature.

Nature, or as I’ll define it, the self regulating life systems in a defined geography.

How much do we take for granted that life is dependent on, and influenced by, the physical geography and climate?

Hills, rocks, lakes, the way a valley shapes and forms the landscape, or a mountain range separating a low lying region from another.

So much of that physical geography influences the “nature” within it.

So much of that physical landscape, is the cause for the “nature” that emerges out of it.

Much of it even the climate therein.

Perhaps you’ve heard this word before in some type of herbal or organic concept before.

But here goes.

Gaia, or the personification of the whole of the earth, as one interconnected entity.

Chemist James Lovelock and microbiologist Lynn Margulis developed the concept in the ‘70’s, proposing that all living organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth, to form a synergistic and self-regulating complex system, which helps to maintain and perpetuate the conditions for life on the planet.

If it wasn’t for those landscapes, and the part they play with altitude, jet streams, pressure systems, humidity and numerous other factors I don’t know to mention, are as important to the life within it, as water or sunlight.

Could the scorpions in the Arizona desert exist if not for the mountains of California blocking the sea breeze?

I don’t believe they can. Nor would they have emerged if not for them.

The features of an area, can take millions of years to have formed, or been left unchanged for a similar span.

Grinding of massive plates shoot rock vertically up thousands of feet, across their whole connection to form mountains.

Some, like the andes through to the rockies, go nearly across the whole length of the planet, and see many of the unique ways life can emerge in an ecosystem.

That’s just it isn’t it.

The variety of ways the whole of the earth is decorated, with the same underlying tools in the kit, like altitude, air chemistry, temperature, etc, creates all life within, and when considered together, become Gaia.

Before our recent epoch, this feedback of flora and fauna interplaying with the climate and geography, was largely left to it’s on devices.

But for the large degree, species interwoven together, thrived and died, without many seismic shifts altering whatever balance has momentarily been created.

That is until something falls in from space, a volcano erupts, or perhaps a new species enters the system and becomes overly successful, like we have done, or many of the flora and fauna we’ve brought with us..

Until recently, these types of events were rare in the course that our rock has been spinning around our sun, so far as we can tell by this event.

Such is to say that today, is an incredibly rare moment in which to live.

There is not a piece of land or sea on the whole of the planet, that isn’t impacted by the presence or effects of our species.

The whole of the physical features, climate systems, feedback within and species without, are now under the influence of homo sapiens.

That’s a hell of a responsibility.

Perhaps, this is a time when the collective force that is Gaia, becomes conscious of itself, and like a mirror, reflects back unto itself.

If it wasn’t for these geographies that I’ve been pining about, and the ripples of species they lent homes to, we would have never existed.

How many dinosaurs had to die for us emerge from a shrew?

All the plants that had to give life to how many animals, who spread the seeds of the trees which gave us fruits to learn to tend?

Or wheat we learned to harvest?

We came out of nature, out of the physical land as much as the ants upon it. We needed all of it to be able to come out of it and build immense networks from silicone that are streaming this into your ears right at this very event.

We are the earth, as much as we are upon it.

So, as we have now become the dominant force upon that in which we have emerged, whatever will we do with it?

What are we doing to it?

I think, we can take knowledge from our collective past, and find a way forward where we intentionally cultivate land to flourish. ( or maybe unlike before, listen more to those in our time )

How much of the collective surface is portioned for this or that, is uncertain.

What is cultivated, how it is done, should be as unique to that area, just as the geography, climate, species and sapien culture therein is.

With much consideration to how the changing chemistry of the atmosphere is altering it all.

Because things are likely to keep getting wonky from here.

Welcome, to the anthropocene.

-J.R.

This was an excerpt from the intro essay to _bandwidth: coast to coast

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