The Anthropocene Period

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The interconnectedness of the topics discussed in the course thus far offer a thought provoking global view on the future of the human species on Earth. The issues of populations growth, the recognition of the impact that we have on our ecosystem, the global food system, and the water and ecological footprint we are leaving on our planet, are huge topics that are at the forefront of scientific and political debates currently taking place all over the world. This is not a US problem, or something that can be effectively addressed or solved by any single country. It will take the global community working together if we are to create a sustainable society that benefits and protects the global north and the global south, the rich, the poor, and people of every race and creed. As Monica Berger Gonzalez stated in Anthropocene, if we were to teach our kids that our actions have a great impact on our planet, and create a diverse system that embraces the views and opinions of all people, not just a Western male point of view, the idea that we are living in the Anthropocene period could become something special. The global community must come together to solve the problems we are currently facing if any real progress is to be made. A clear example of this is the Paris Accord – a global effort that holds each Country accountable for implementing changes to combat global warming. Unfortunately, under the current administration, the US has removed itself from the accord, joining the ranks of just two other countries not to be a part of the agreement.

With the global population projected to reach between 9-11 billion people by 2050, the issues we currently face will only become more severe if not addressed sooner than later. Things look especially grave for countries at high risk of exceeding capacity, because they are also the most vulnerable for hunger and scarcity of clean water. I had a professor years ago that strongly believes that the next world war will be fought over the control and access of clean drinking water. Seeing the amount of water that goods and services take to produce is disheartening. The meat consumption in this country alone, in addition to the exporting of meat to other countries, requires a great deal of water to produce. Water that could be rerouted to irrigate produce that requires lesser amounts of waters such as fruits and vegetables. If each person were to reduce their meat intake, as Michael Pollan suggests, this could free up much of the water being used and allow for greater sustainability. Perhaps, the water saved could be used to provide water to the global south where access to clean water is hard to come by. As Andrew Revkin states in Anthropocene, we need to take care of the most vulnerable in our global community if we are to protect our species. We are living in a complex and delicate ecosystem, that we have manipulated to effectively feed a population that has experienced significant growth over the past century. We must be aware of the consequences of our actions and respond effectively and immediately if we are to slow or reverse the significant impact caused by our presence.

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