Since times immemorial, rather say since the day the hunter gatherer man became a cultivator, he began looking towards the skies for the rain or the sunshine. Till then, man was like a predator, killing animals for food. But once he became a cultivator, he began to play with the earth. Many a times he changed the landscape by hacking a forest to create a large farm. The more he began depending on the earth, more he started meddling with the nature and he started getting more rebuttals from the nature.
Researchers on the past climates studied them as they existed five million years ago to the contemporary period. They even created computer simulated models to predict the future climates. Paul Crutzen, a Nobel awardee of 1995, who unraveled the mechanisms that upset our ozone layers, has coined the term Anthropocene era for the present geological era of the Earth.
The reason for this nomenclature is simple-as evident from the name Anthros means human. This is an era of the earth dominated by us, the humans. But humans have been dominating the earth since quite some time. Hence there is a debate about the starting date of the Anthropocene Era. Some say it should coincide with industrialization. But there are evidences of human interference on the eco-system, much before that. The conversion of man from hunter-gatherer to an agriculturist in the Neolithic period is said to be the beginning of the Anthropocene.
It seems ecological dis-balances began some 10000 years ago. In other words it coincided with the retreat of the Ice Age. During that period many species of large mammals disappeared. Was it a climatic incident or human hand was there? The scientists do not deny the possibility of killing of those giants by the humans of the yore! It is believed that this mass killing by the humans affected the methane production. The mammoths that were predated were the largest methane producers. The dip in the methane levels in the atmosphere lead to a Global chill.
These meat eaters advanced further as agriculturists and burnt acres and acres of forests. These forests were the carbon stores or carbon sinks for the excess atmospheric carbon. Instead, our ancestors converted them in to carbon-dioxide producing fields. In a way, it was boon in disguise that the Global chill induced by their forefathers was stalled as the excess carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere generated warmth by creating green-house conditions. Bill Ruddiman of Virginia University, an ace climate scientist, on the basis of the study of the Ice Cores from Antarctica worked out the global enhancement of greenhouse gases and said that this increased the global temperatures by 0.8 degrees Celsius.
Thomas Stocker another climatologist produced contradictory evidence to prove that the initial warming by the Neolithic man was not possible. He said it was due to reactions by the carbon containing minerals in the oceans that finally released heavy amounts of carbon-dioxide to raise the levels of green-house gases.
However, this was all before the industrially and technologically evolved biped, the modern man came in to existence. Once the smoke belching industries were set up, hydrocarbon fuel guzzling automobiles came in to being the scenario drastically changed. To compound the problem human beings have multiplied like insects. More numbers means more food, more water, more roads, more vehicles…there is no end to this gargantuan list.
Thus, food and water security are at present foremost in the minds of the world leaders, than the territorial securities and expansions. The climate seems to have gone haywire. Countries like USA are facing fierce storms, vicious floods and heat or cold waves. Developing country like India is facing the crisis of floods and droughts, unprecedented winter rains and storms, humid and torrid summers. All these lead to more consumption of power, which ultimately burdens the atmosphere with more green-house gases.
Will it be lights out for the humans, like the other vanishing species of vertebrates? It seems as of today the extinction of vertebrates 114 times faster than it used to be in the past 10000 years. We have polluted our world, hacked our forests and now in front of the Nature we are soft targets like the ‘walking dead.’
Are we going to survive the war with the Nature is a million dollar question.