The Anthropocene

Welcome to the world we created: a world of cable networks, shipping lanes, melting ice and artificial light. The planet has now changed so much as a result of our activities that some scientists propose we have entered a new human-centric geological epoch: the anthropocene.

The anthropocene arguably began with the industrial revolution, which not only lit the fuse on atmospheric and climate change but also gave us the mechanisation necessary for industrial agriculture and massive deforestation, with the associated losses in biodiversity. However, the ‘great acceleration’ only began after 1950, when a huge number of associated changes in the global human habitat could be observed, as this graphic shows (click for a bigger version):

The anthropocene

These amazing representations of our modern, man-made world are part of a new educational web portal: Welcome to the Anthropocene. The website also uses Google Maps satellite to showcase a number of amazing places around the world which highlight the bleeding edge of our progress into this new realm.

Almeria greenhousesThe landscape of Almería, Spain is transformed by plastic greenhouses which (unexpectedly) act like a giant mirror, lowering the temperature of the region relative to the rest of Spain

Desert cropsDesert crops are grown by tapping finite underground water supplies. The watering hoses rotate around a central pivot to create circular fields.

Tokyo aerial viewSeen from space, the vast concrete sprawl of the Greater Tokyo Area dominates Japan’s main island, Honshu. With over 35 million people, it is the largest and most populous metropolis in the world.

If you like this kind of amazing stuff, take a look at The World: Now and Then, Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s amazing aerial photos of Earth, and his 2011 film, Home.

Video by Globaia for the Planet Under Pressure 2012 conference
Thanks to Tom Day for the suggestion!

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