Hello, fellow humans. I’m here in Germany today to give a talk about something that affects us all. That subject is the effect that we humans have had on our planet, the Earth. I’m sure we all have some notion of these effects, as the topic of global warming is so often in the news. But what other effects are we as the dominant species having upon our home planet?
Let’s consider the term “Dominant Species.” We can even link this term to another one – “The Anthropocene Era” and see how the two terms are related. Are they related? Yes, indeed they are.
Human beings are the dominant species on planet Earth. Why? Well, we’ll get to that in a moment. At present, in the year 2016, we, our species, still has the most power to cause changes to the planet. The term Anthropocene Era has been proposed by scientists to describe this era, although it has not yet been formally accepted by the International Committee on Stratigraphy. Some scientists consider that the Holocene Era is still extant and that the Anthropocene Era is a footnote to it.
However, the definition of the term Anthropocene is an interesting one. The term means the period in which the activities of humans are having the most substantial effect on Earth’s ecosystems and geology. No other species, not the great apex predators such as lions, or tigers, nor the great apes has caused so many changes. In fact, for many members of the animal kingdom, the truth is, in fact, the reverse. We, the humans are changing their lives by changing the conditions in which they live.
Now that we have heard a definition of the term Anthropocene Era, we can see that it is linked in meaning to the term “dominant species.” This dominance is mainly attributed to the abilities of the human mind or the development of the human frontal lobes. No other species has the powers of communication and decision making that the human species has – but these powers have led us into the problematic era in which we now live.
What are these problems? We are surely all aware of global warming and other problems such as the destruction of the environment, air pollution, pollution of the oceans, nuclear fallout, destruction of the rainforests, the extinction of species, nanotechnology … the list is quite long.
My intention is not to sadden people or find a way to blame anyone. I am a visual artist and I seek to raise awareness of the Earth’s plight by depicting scenes in which the effects of mankind have significantly changed a natural environment.
There are many agencies whose goal is to inform us how to change our habits and to reduce pollution, or to purchase products that cause less damage. There are even companies that allow us to buy carbon offsets.
So, the points I am making are not new to you. The term Anthropocene Era may have first been used in the 1960’s. I would like to meet people who have an interest in exploring the natural environment outside the big industrial cities to look for signs of change, such as changes to the growth of plants, or changes to bodies of water such as rivulets and the tributaries to large rivers. It is in these nooks and crannies that the signs of humans’ effects on the environment first become evident.