John Baez – Zooming Out In Time

Posted on Monday, October 16th, 02006 by Simone Davalos
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John Baez

Welcome to the Anthropocene

The graphs we see these days, John Baez began, all look vertical— carbon burning shooting up, CO2 in the air shooting up, global temperature shooting up, and population still shooting up. How can we understand what really going on? “It’s like trying to understand geology while you’re hanging by your fingernails on a cliff, scared to death. You think all geology is vertical.”

So, zoom out for some perspective. An Earth temperature graph for the last 18,000 years shows that we’ve built a false sense of security from 10,000 years of unusually stable climate. Even so, a “little dent” in the graph of a drop of only 1 degree Celsius put Europe in a what’s called “the little ice age” from 1555 to 1850. It ended just when industrial activity took off…

Read the rest of Stewart Brand’s Summary