1 Apr 2011

The Anthropocene Age

National Geographic had an excellent article on the Age of Humans (as in we are affecting our environment).

This illustration (not on the web; weird) was central to explaining and describing human impact.

Bottom Line: If you're not going to get sustainability with fewer people, then you need to have technology and a consumption profile that lowers your impact.


  1. Paul Ehrlich!

  2. About that illustration appearing in print but not on the web: sometimes an illustration's copyright owner gives permission for the print journal or magazine but not the electronic version, even though it's the same publication.

    When a journal article has an illustration that describes an important process while the online journal lacks the illustration, there may be nothing in the text that even mentions the illustrated process and the online article may or may not include a warning about the omission.

    Such a situation can seriously compromise understanding and constitutes an occupational hazard in scholarly research.

  3. Does more technology necessarily mean more impact? Couldn't more appropriate technology could result in lower consumption per capita, like teleconferencing vs. travel, water recycling, regenerative braking, weather driven irrigation, drought tolerant crops, green buildings, etc.

  4. @George -- good point

    @Jim -- agreed. That's why my BL said "technology... that lowers your impact" It can go both ways, but the article appears to use technology in the sense of more things to consume (with more affluence). Steady-staters would agree with you -- doing more with less...

  5. It seems like technology could help lower our impact, but instead it typically seems to raise our impact by promoting more consumption. Are you suggesting that it could if we develop the right sort of stuff, like more efficient vehicles for mass transit, better designed communities, more efficient agriculture, telecommunication vs. transportation, etc.?

  6. @JP -- technology, per se, is not the problem as much as resource-intensive technology (e.g., lawns and the lawnmowers on them), so I basically agree. Consumption definitely has a bigger impact, e.g., Americans eating more meat than Indians...


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