Dust flux, Vostok ice core

Dust flux, Vostok ice core
Two dimensional phase space reconstruction of dust flux from the Vostok core over the period 186-4 ka using the time derivative method. Dust flux on the x-axis, rate of change is on the y-axis. From Gipp (2001).

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The new New Age

Anthropocene is a movie which appeared in the Toronto Film Festival this year. It has since gone on to appear in a few cinemas hereabouts.

It is a visually striking film. But if you are already familiar with its message, it is a little slow.

The movie trailer is unfair to the gentleman from Hong Kong who owns the ivory shop. All of the ivory depicted in his segment in his store is fossil ivory, something made clear in the film, but not the trailer. I went to one such shop when I visited Hong Kong--if you want a carved tusk, you can have one for about the price of a house.

I first encountered the term "Anthropocene" as a proposed name for a new geological epoch--one in which the forces modifying the earth's surface are dominated by human activities--in 1987 or 1988, in an issue of Geology. I only remember the time because it was when I was in Newfoundland, and looking back casually through recent publications only shows more recent references.

The original article was very short, and as I recall, attracted a firestorm of responses in the form of letters to the editor. Most of these suggested alternative names to this epoch, ranging from "Neocene" and "Cenocene" (often accompanied by dry, pedantic discussions about why one name was superior to another), but there was one clever wag who proposed we call this new epoch the "Shouldhavecene". Yes, we should have.

Anthropocene seems to have won out, or at least it has the upper hand.

Thirty years ago the world was a different place. At the time the first article appeared, it seemed like a joke, this idea that humans could dominate the surface features of the planet. Part of this is a kind of blindness. Grow up in cities surrounded by farms and this landscape seems like the most natural in the world. Add to this Canada's managed forests, some tourism commercials, and it was easy to think that nearly the entire country was untouched wilderness.

Onwards in the theme of human impacts on the world. Yesterday we had the second (annual?) Progressive Mine Forum, held in the MaRS Discovery District, which is a sort of breeding tank for tech industries. It covered numerous themes related to modernizing the industry, from mechanization, reducing fossil fuel usage, "green" mining, battery metals, and so forth.

Quote of the day: "You know who likes big trucks? Ten-year-old boys and mining engineers." I think that was Nathan Stubina of McEwen Mining.

Interesting idea of the day: Just as Uber is the largest taxi company in the world (which owns no taxis) and Airbnb is the largest hotel chain in the world (which owns no hotels), might there arise a large mining company that owns no mines? The speaker, George Hemingway of The Stratalis Group mentioned that Apple is proposing to use only recycled material in their products. What if they do the recycling? What if they became so good at it that they begin to supply recycled material to everyone else. Apple (or any other large tech company) has a huge advantage over traditional mining companies--they have no trouble attracting financing to projects with no projected return.

No comments:

Post a Comment