Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Extreme Makeover: Mankind Transforms Earth

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Extreme Makeover: Mankind Transforms Earth

Article excerpt

Human beings are pushing the planet in an entirely new direction with revolutionary implications for its life, a new study by researchers at the University of Leicester has suggested. The study was published in The Anthropocene Review.

"We are used to seeing headlines daily about environmental crises: global warming, ocean acidification, pollution of all kinds, looming extinctions," says professor Jan Zalasiewicz from the university's department of geology. "These changes are advancing so rapidly that the concept that we are living in a new geological period of time, the Anthropocene Epoch, is now in wide currency, with new and distinctive rock strata being formed that will persist far into the future. But episodes of global warming, ocean acidification, and mass extinction have all happened before, well before humans arrived on the planet. We wanted to see if there was something different about what is happening now."

The team identified four key changes:

* The homogenization of species globally through mass, human-instigated species invasions: Nothing on this global scale has happened before.

* One species, Homo sapiens, is now in effect the top predator on land and in the sea and has commandeered for its use over a quarter of global biological productivity. …

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