Pondering a diorama to perceive the Anthropocene

“This sprawling epic is as lively as a natural history museum diorama.” (Stephanie Zacharek, review of “10,000 BC”)

Perceiving means to become conscious of, to realize, to understand, to grasp. Natural history museums strive to enable the public to perceive, commonly in re-creations of past worlds. Who hasn’t gazed over a diorama of the Carboniferous Period, for example, Continue reading

Earth, Life, and Time: What is Natural?

Life on Earth has always altered its environment.1 “Deep” time records major shifts in atmospheric composition, for example, as life evolved photosynthesis, leading to a massive transfer of CO2 from the atmosphere to the biosphere. Given this, is the large-scale injection into the atmosphere of anthropogenically released carbon a completely natural consequence of biotic activity?

Atmospheric levels of CO2 have always changed, attributable in part to life — and well before the influence of humans. On geologic time scales such fluctuation results from Continue reading