Friday, May 25, 2012


I like Bryan Walsh. He's a reporter for Time. I've looked him up and seen a photo of him -- he looks as if he's in his forties, but I can't find any detailed background about him. I've read articles that he's written on a wide range of subjects -- weather, science, new inventions, computers, clothes, exercise, food. What he writes makes sense to me and often -- amazingly, quite often -- he educates me.

When I saw this bleak picture with the headline, "NATURE IS OVER," I winced. It seems to me Time, like Newsweek, like TV, headlines stuff to sell something -- an advertiser's product, the magazine, the TV station itself.

"Dammit, nature is NOT over," I was thinking, till I noticed the name below the headline -- the article was by Bryan Walsh.

Bang -- the first paragraph announced that a team of Russian scientists in Antarctica have just found Lake Vostok, a large sub-glacial lake -- water that's been sealed off, untouched by humans for 34 million years.

Not sure why that was hugely important, I read sort of absentmindedly and gathered a lot of anthropological terms, and lots of percentage numbers about "ecosystems" changing.

I heated up my coffee. Oh boy, the information that's been loaded into my brain about endangered things -- animals, birds, water, forests, melting icebergs, bad air, bad weather, new diseases -- it's almost overwhelming. This has been a year of negatives, unending polls/numbers/percentages -- I'm tired of thinking about where we are heading, politically and economically, thinking about the rebellions, the horrors -- all the bad stuff that's happening all over the world.

I sipped my coffee and I read on. What Bryan Walsh was reporting was loaded with words about the "Holocene age" that we've been in for the last 12,000 years. The word, derived from the Greek, means new and whole. Apparently now, right now, because there are now seven billion humans on earth and man is going to change to change the world in order to survive -- the geologists, and scientists have said that we entering the "Anthropocene age." ("Anthro" is man).

Walsh explained about these ages or epochs like a teacher, gathering and summarizing facts objectively. Not preaching or emphasizing what mankind has done by selfishly, harmfully ignoring environmental issues, he moved me into a new sense of reality.

He pointed out that nowadays we do many marvelous things to maintain and expand life. As an example of this, Walsh mentioned nuclear power that IS cleaner, better for the earth than the power we are currently using. I braced myself, expecting to hear again the doomful numbers, percentages, polls, summaries about what's happening in Japan. But Walsh, instead of reiterating all that, pointed out that the dangerous aspects of nuclear power can be conquered, even re-conceived.

Quoting a Nobel Prize winning environmentalist, he said, "'Our ability to comprehend the full extent of the human impact on earth puts us in a unique position as planetary gardeners, a responsibility we have no choice but to take on. We are as gods, and we have to get good at it.'"

I like that.

I like the thought that we are gardeners, that digging into and studying the 34-million-year-old Lake Vostok can help us figure out what's going to happen to the our planet in the next 10,000 to 20,000 years. It can help us figure out what we need to do as we keep growing.

For the first time, I find myself thinking that all the bad stuff that's happening here, happening all over the world -- those numbers/polls/ percentages/ surveys, may be moving us into a new reality.

Am I grabbing onto hope? If you dig into the word "anthropocene," you'll find, as I found, it is very current, new thought that many other people are digging into and finding hopeful,

Visit this link -- Welcome to the Anthropocene debate. Or click and read what Science Website says. about this; read what the NY Times said:

Or glance at this National Geographic video for a second. If you have time, watch the entire video, and-absorb the ideas for a while, and see where it takes you.


Maureen Jacobs said...

Love today's blog. You seem to find the most interesting things to write about. As a mom and teacher to my homeschooled boys, I am using your topic as a springboard for one of today's lessons.

We are science geeks and love to learn new things.

The word for the day is ANTHROPOCENE....

O Man!

Dede said...

This is the first time that I have heard the term "anthropocene". Your posts are always so intelligently and thoughtfully written.

Would love to be around 100 years from now to see what new discoveries will be unfolding!

Anonymous said...

This information today is disturbing and interesting at the same time. Sounds like mankind needs to shape up quickly and start making positive changes in the environment etc, soon if we want Earth to be around a long time and liveable. Thanks for sharing this important issue Em. kam

Carola said...

This concept of anthropocene is very interesting, but we will never know--too soon. The example I was thinking about as I read your blog was the idea of changing the orbit of an asteroid so it can't hit us. We have that capability now. I can't forget the 50's movies about the end of the world. What would they be like if they were remade today.

MikesFilmTalk said...

Your phrase, "I read sort of absentmindedly" made me chuckle. That is precisely how I read anything that deals with the "predictions" of any new age.

You have piqued my interest on the discovery of this land-locked 'sealed' glacial lake. The idea of anything being untouched, unseen, and undiscovered for 34 million years just about takes my breath away.

Before I go "googling" for further information on this find I'll leave you with one thought: I keep, for some asinine reason, getting a mental image of Mr Rogers saying in his calm, reassuring tone, "Can you say Anthropocene? I knew you could."

Another great thought provoking blog, Ms Em!

OR said...

Em, you manipulate words, sentences and phrases, well. In short, you are a fine writer. Being a believer in God, Vostock proves that 'nature' is all anbout us, and ther's still a lot more to it, not yet discovered. Keep up the good work. :)

Louise said...

Thank you so much EMily. The national geographic documentary was excellent. Disturbing but hopeful.

eddie rotten said...

I love that you are not afraid to grow into different topics. Subjects that some wont touch. Sometimes outshining the ones that even brought the subject up in the first place. Flowing into a seamless fountain of information for yourself and others to bathe in. Understanding how dark and controversial words and ideas may be, yet taking the time to cultivate. Sometimes were not supposed to understand the whole of an idea, but embrace the individual that exposes it in that brief period of time. Watching it rise from a conceptual horizon, until it brightens our day. Listening to it blow from person to person. Feeling it wrap around and cradle us like the babies we are. Just like nature, which never ends.