Skip to main content

What’s in a name? (Hindu)

Far from hubris, Anthropocene is a formal acknowledgement of guilt about what we have to done to the earth

Last year, the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) — the body that decides epochs, aeons and eras to mark the earth’s geological history — recommended that humans should have their own epoch. Anthropocene, as this proposed epoch is called, roughly means the ‘Recent Age of Man’ and was first proposed by Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen and atmospheric scientist Eugene Stoermer around 2000.

Today we live in the Holocene, a period that began roughly 12,000 years ago. This corresponds to the beginning of agriculture, the earliest settlements in West Asia, and the multiplication of humanity to every part of the globe. Geologists mark out an age based on imprints in fossil records. They have never marked out an age as belonging to an organism or species. ‘Jurassic’, for instance, has nothing to do with dinosaurs and refers to the Jura mountains in Europe.

Is Anthropocene man’s self-attestation that he is the master of the universe?

If the planet were to end
Far from hubris, Anthropocene is a formal acknowledgement of guilt. The triumphant march of Homo sapiens, chronicled through the ages as ‘civilization’, has over the past half a century begun to be replaced by a creeping shame: there is concrete enough to cover every square kilometre of the earth, ginormous amounts of plastic that outweigh this planet’s seven-billion inhabitants, and warheads primed to destroy all traces of the years it took to conceive them.

Armageddon is no longer the scary chapter that concludes religious texts but is now staid science. Of course, the details are hazy and many years away, but in broad terms there is fair agreement that life — organic life at least — is three-fourths done and earth is almost halfway through its journey of being destroyed by the sun. This is even if mankind stops, as of this second, every wisp of its greenhouse gases.

When the leaders of the world congregated and congratulated themselves in Paris about their success in getting everyone to agree (without any binding commitments) that the earth couldn’t be allowed to heat up two degrees, it only showed how naively humanity hopes that somehow technology and evolution will ‘save’ us. The lesson for doomsday scenarios is that survival must involve a massive upheaval in the way we conceive of our place on earth and how squabbles over apportioning carbon emissions are pointlessly incremental and futile when what we need is radical — almost outrageous — ideas for even a moon shot at surviving, let alone as a species.

In this light, the quest for Anthropocene is man scratching out a timestamp in the sand, not to show that we lived but just that we existed.


Popular posts from this blog

Cloud seeding

Demonstrating the function of the flare rack that carries silver iodide for cloud-seeding through an aircraft. 
Water is essential for life on the earth. Precipitation from the skies is the only source for it. India and the rest of Asia are dependent on the monsoons for rains. While the South West Monsoon is the main source for India as a whole, Tamil Nadu and coastal areas of South Andhra Pradesh get the benefit of the North East Monsoon, which is just a less dependable beat on the reversal of the South West Monsoon winds.

SC asks Centre to strike a balance on Rohingya issue (.hindu)

Supreme Court orally indicates that the government should not deport Rohingya “now” as the Centre prevails over it to not record any such views in its formal order, citing “international ramifications”.

The Supreme Court on Friday came close to ordering the government not to deport the Rohingya.

It finally settled on merely observing that a balance should be struck between humanitarian concern for the community and the country's national security and economic interests.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, one filed by persons within the Rohingya community, against a proposed move to deport over 40,000 Rohingya refugees. A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, began by orally indicating that the government should not deport Rohingya “now”, but the government prevailed on the court to not pass any formal order, citing “international ramifications”. With this, the status quo continues even though the court gave the community liberty to approach it in …

India’s criminal wastage: over 10 million works under MGNREGA incomplete or abandoned (hindu)

In the last three and half years, the rate of work completion under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has drastically declined, leading to wastage of public money and leaving villages more prone to drought. This could also be a reason for people moving out of the programme.

At a time when more than one-third of India’s districts are reeling under a drought-like situation due to deficit rainfall, here comes another bad news. The works started under the MGNREGA—close to 80 per cent related to water conservation, irrigation and land development—are increasingly not being completed or in practice, abandoned.

Going by the data (as on October 12) in the Ministry of Rural Development’s website, which tracks progress of MGNREGA through a comprehensive MIS, 10.4 million works have not been completed since April 2014. In the last three and half years, 39.7 million works were started under the programme. Going by the stipulation under the programme, close to 7…