Some footprints disappear soon after we have left them. Remember, the footprints you made on the beaches. The sea eventually washes them away. Some footprints stay longer than others.
On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong put his left foot on the Moon. It was the first human footprint on a planetary body other than Earth. The footprints on the Moon will remain as they are for millions of years. There is no wind to blow them away; Moon has no atmosphere. On Earth we are leaving an indelible footprint; we leave footprints as individuals and as a species.
- The Carbon Footprint and
- The Ecological Footprint. First though, let us consider the footprint the human civilization is leaving on Geological Time Scale.
In fact scientists now call the present epoch as Anthropocene on the Geological Time Scale.
The term Anthropocene – “the recent age of man” was coined by Nobel Laureate chemist, Paul Crutzen (image) and his colleague Eugene Stoermer.
Anthropocene marks the era when human activities have had a significant worldwide impact on Earth’s ecosystems.
Dr Jan Zalasiewicz from University of Leicester has observed; “Simply put, our planet no longer functions in the way that it once did. Atmosphere, climate, oceans, ecosystems… they’re all now operating outside Holocene norms. This strongly suggests we’ve crossed an epoch boundary.”
Scientists are still debating when the Anthropocene began. Some think it should be 1800s, others think 1900s – whatever it may be; Anthropocene belongs to us. Yes, an entire era is going to be marked for us Humans.
Humans will mark the end of the 10,000-year-old Holocene epoch. Anthropocene has begun. We are leaving an indelible footprint and we need to be careful.
In the 2008 book„ Cruisin‟ the Fossil Freeway‟, the famous Alaska-based artist, Ray Troll created a wonderful artwork depicting the geological timescale.
Humans have impacted biodiversity as well.
Biodiversity is the variation in living systems and organisms in a given habitat, ecosystem or Earth as a whole.
Change in biodiversity over time is at times used as a measure to check the health of an ecosystem. If biodiversity declines then the health and viability of an ecosystem declines. Today biodiversity is on decline; Earth is not feeling well!
Humans have caused extinctions of several species. When someone or something no longer exists, it is said to have become extinct, like the dinosaurs. Today, several species are struggling mostly because of human activities that cause habitat destruction, species introductions and hunting.
Humans share Earth with literally lakhs of other species and our survival is dependent on their survival. Our economy and environment will collapse without healthy biodiversity Biodiversity is absolutely essential for Sustainable Development. The benefits are;
- Improves and maintains soil quality, helps agriculture
- Keeps water pure, maintains ecosystems in good health
- Removes organic waste, dead plants and animals
- Provides medicinal remedies
- Improves Pollination and Seed Dispersal
- Ecotourism; tourism to spots of rich natural heritage
- Benefits the economy, timber and forest produce
- Provides food and clean air
Loss of Biodiversity = Loss of healthy environment
Loss of healthy environment = No Sustainable Development.