“. . . . . Ditto when it comes to the climate Pandora’s box we’re opening. As NASA explains on its website, “In the last 800,000 years, there have been eight cycles of ice ages and warmer periods.” The last ice age ended some 11,700 years ago, giving way to our current climate era — known as the Holocene (meaning “entirely recent”) — which was characterized by stable seasons that allowed for stable agriculture, the building of human communities and ultimately civilization as we know it today.
“Most of these climate changes are attributed to very small variations in Earth’s orbit that change the amount of solar energy our planet receives,” NASA notes.
Well, say goodbye to that. There is now an intense discussion among environmentalists — and geological experts at the International Union of Geological Sciences, the professional organization responsible for defining Earth’s geological/climate eras — about whether we humans have driven ourselves out of the Holocene into a new epoch, called the Anthropocene.
That name comes “from ‘anthropo,’ for ‘man,’ and ‘cene,’ for ‘new’ — because humankind has caused mass extinctions of plant and animal species, polluted the oceans and altered the atmosphere, among other lasting impacts,” an article in Smithsonian Magazine explained.”
Decline in populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians over 40 years
“A 2018 World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report focusing on how human activity has affected wildlife found that between 1970 and 2014, there was an approximately 60 percent decline in populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians. The report highlighted deforestation and other types of land degradation as a major driver of this trend, citing data showing only about one-quarter of land on Earth is largely free of human impacts. Protecting 30% of U.S. lands and waters—as part of the global 30×30 goal—is a critical step to shore up critical habitat, save migration corridors and stop the bleeding. For example, species forced to shift to higher elevations in order to escape hotter temperatures need intact, interconnected thruways of land and water to make their move.
The chart below shows The Living Planet Index, an indicator of the state of global biodiversity cited by WWF. It measures the average rate of change over time across a set of species populations and shows an overall decline of 60% in the population sizes of vertebrates between 1970 and 2014–an average drop over half in less than 50 years.”
Source: Why protecting 30% of lands and waters is critical | The Wilderness Society