USF The Anthropocene Essay

Anthropocene The proposed current geological epoch, in which humans are the primary cause of permanent planetary change.

We have reached an unprecedented moment in planetary history. Humans now arguably change the Earth and its processes more than all other natural forces combined. Climate change, extinctions, invasive species, technofossils, anthroturbation, terraforming of land, and redirection of water are all part of the indelible human signature.

The changes to the Earth System, their causes, and their implications for humanity are described in a review article by W. Steffen and co-authors.

Steffen, W., et al., 2015. The trajectory of the Anthropocene: The Great Acceleration. The Anthropocene Review 2:81-98.

Your assignment is to answer the six questions below concisely, completely, and accurately using the Steffen et al. article (see pdf of article in Canvas files section).

A general definition of OECD can be found in the Steffen et al paper, but not a list of OECD countries (question 2). To answer question 2, please visit this link: http://www.oecd.org/about/membersandpartners/list-oecd-member-countries.htm (Links to an external site.)

The mission of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.

You must number your answers.

  1. List the approximate year date of the Great Acceleration and one example of a change in human activities or the Earth System that characterize the Great Acceleration.
  2. Define “OECD” and list 3 examples of countries that can be categorized as OECD.
  3. In 2010, the date of a recent assessment, what percentage of the world’s population of humans lived in OECD countries? What percentage of humanity lives in non-OECD countries?
  4. You may have heard of the acronym GDP, or Gross Domestic Product, which measures the economic value of goods and services produced by a country over a specific period of time. GDP also indirectly measures how much pressure humans living in a particular country put on the global environment, since goods and services have environmental costs, such as resource depletion and pollution. In 2010, what proportion of global GDP and related environmental costs was by OECD countries vs. the rest of the world?
  5. Many people view the human population explosion in non-OECD countries as one of the most pressing global environmental issues. Based on your answers to the previous two questions, is the human population explosion the main cause of the Anthropocene?
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