ENVI 201 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Nuclear Fallout, Anthropocene

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Earth is 4.5 billion years old
Earths history is divided into eons, eras, periods, and epochs
The last 30-40 years are important → distinct age from the Holocene epoch (where we
are now- started 11700 years ago→ stripped biological, chemical, and physical system
of the earth itself to manage itself
Anthropocene = the Human age
A new epoch?
Scientists say an epoch follows an event → asteroid that demolished dinosaurs
and ended Cretaceous period
Farming → fertilizers and amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus in soils highest in the
past 100,000 years
Aluminum → production has increased by 98% since the 1950s
Concrete → Pervasive since WW2, primary building material
We could cover the entire planet in concrete
Plastic → decay slowly and leave behind techno fossils in the geological record
Amount of plastic produced each year weighs ~ as much as all humans on Earth
Nuclear fallout → fallout from thermonuclear weapons detonated in the mid 20th century
Landfills → massive deposits of disposable waste that produce new minerals and
elements that end up in other places
Urban structures → humans have transformed more than half of the earth’s land surface
with buildings, roads, mines, farms and landfills, etc
Dams → one per day being constructed
Affects water temperature, flow, habitat, sediment, etc
Rivers → rivers and aquifers drying up causes change in habitat for species bc of
population growth
Mining → entire mountain tops and landscape are now being mined to extract mineral
resources and coal
We have transformed the surface of the earth
Coal is terrible for the planet
CO2 → not a natural cycle anymore
We have far passed any levels ever even just in the past year
Climate change affects the distribution of species on earth
Tree prevalence and abundancy in certain areas will change as a
response to temperatures around the world changing
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