The Anthropocene: A conspicuous stratigraphical signal of anthropogenic changes in production and consumption across the biosphere
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© 2016 The Authors. Biospheric relationships between production and consumption of biomass have been resilient to changes in the Earth system over billions of years. This relationship has increased in its complexity, from localized ecosystems predicated on anaerobic microbial production and consumption to a global biosphere founded on primary production from oxygenic photoautotrophs, through the evolution of Eukarya, metazoans, and the complexly networked ecosystems of microbes, animals, fungi, and plants that characterize the Phanerozoic Eon (the last 541 million years of Earth history). At present, one species, Homo sapiens, is refashioning this relationship between consumption and production in the biosphere with unknown consequences. This has left a distinctive stratigraphy of the production and consumption of biomass, of natural resources, and of produced goods. This can be traced through stone tool technologies and geochemical signals, later unfolding into a diachronous signal of technofossils and human bioturbation across the planet, leading to stratigraphically almost isochronous signals developing by the mid-20th century. These latter signals may provide an invaluable resource for informing and constraining a formal Anthropocene chronostratigraphy, but are perhaps yet more important as tracers of a biosphere state that is characterized by a geologically unprecedented pattern of global energy flow that is now pervasively influenced and mediated by humans, and which is necessary for maintaining the complexity of modern human societies.
SubjectScience & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences
Environmental Sciences & Ecology
NET PRIMARY PRODUCTION
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1002/2015EF000339
Publication InfoWilliams, M; Zalasiewicz, J; Waters, CN; Edgeworth, M; Bennett, C; Barnosky, AD; ... Zhisheng, A (2016). The Anthropocene: A conspicuous stratigraphical signal of anthropogenic changes in production and consumption across the biosphere. Earth's Future, 4(3). pp. 34-53. 10.1002/2015EF000339. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/21243.
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Peter K. Haff
The neoenvironment is the total environment in which we live. It is the sum of the natural, human, and technological systems and processes that surround us. It includes for example forest ecosystems, animals and machines, nanotechnology, the internet, highways, medical systems, power grids, human populations, political parties, governments and bureaucracies, robots and religions and their interactions with each other. In an age in which both the level and acceleration of techno
Daniel D. Richter
Professor in the Division of Earth and Climate Science
Richter’s research and teaching links soils with ecosystems and the wider environment, most recently Earth scientists’ Critical Zone. He focuses on how humanity is transforming Earth’s soils from natural to human-natural systems, specifically how land-uses alter soil processes and properties on time scales of decades, centuries, and millennia. Richter's book, Understanding Soil Change (Cambridge University Press), co-authored with his former PhD
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