An epoch to end epochs

While making my way through Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, I caught her unmistakable continental drift. Somewhere along the line a few years ago, scientists and researchers did what you knew they would one day inevitably do—they shut their briefcases, covered their laptops, stuffed their Clif bars into their backpacks, and then, with a haughty huff … walked out of the room.

The room to which I refer is the one in which this supposed “debate” about man-made climate change was taking place. Guess what? The scientists got fed up and split. We wore 'em down! Hardy har har. They can't stand to be around us mouthbreathers any more. Can't say I blame 'em. Hell, we might be contagious.

For real scientists, of course, this “debate” has been over for quite some time. Best thing to do now is just to turn your collective back on this whole circus and try to get something done. At this point, it appears safe to speculate that climate researchers who encounter those who still insist there exists some kind of “debate” on the issue of climate change might well experience raging ripcurrents of heartburn similar to those felt by the learned men of 1543 who still had to occasionally chat with “flat earthers.”

To give you an idea of how far in the rear view mirror of modern culture science has put us, consider that it was all the way back in the year 2002 that a Dutch chemist, Paul Crutzen, had an epiphany at a meeting at which the chairman kept referring to the current geological epoch, the Holocene. Crutzen just finally blurted out, “Let's stop it. We're no longer in the Holocene. We're in the Anthropocene.”

The International Commission on Stratigraphy is considering this significant name change, to change the current geological epoch to Anthropocene. It seems to be a slam dunk. After all, Crutzen noted, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by 40 percent in the last 200 years. The concentration of a more potent greenhouse gas, methane, has doubled in that same time. “Because of these anthropogenic emissions,” wrote Crutzen, “the global climate is likely to depart from natural behavior for many millennia to come.” Anthropogenic emissions. As in one species, running amok with its bad self. Oops. Oh well. Shit happens. And sometimes, shit happens that lasts for … a while. If we manage to kill all the coral reefs on this planet by the year 2050, I'm gonna have a very big problem with my own species.

This name change has not taken place yet. It's probable the ICS will vote on it in 2016. Should it come to pass, it still won't convince anybody at Fox News to drive a Prius. “We could have saved the Earth. But we were too damned cheap.”—Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.