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It is important that we all know what anthropogenic means. In this article, we dive deeper and explain how crucial it is to be aware of our impact on the environment.

Words By Jen McDonald


What does anthropogenic mean? 

So what does “Anthropogenic” actually mean? Anthropogenic is a scientific term often used to describe human impact on the environment. We are living in a time many people refer to as the Anthropocene. Needless to say, our species impact the physical environment in many ways: overpopulation, pollution, burning fossil fuels, and deforestation. Changes like these have triggered climate change, soil erosion, poor air quality, and undrinkable water. Consequently, these negative impacts can affect human behaviour and can prompt mass migrations.

The last 60 years 

It’s hard to believe that Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and modern humans have been around for thousands of years. In that time, we have damaged the planet, permanently altering the physical, chemical and biological systems. If we look back at the last 60 years, we can see that human impact on the environment has increased in scale. According to a recent Nasa study, carbon dioxide from human activity is increasing more than 250 times faster than it did from natural sources after the last Ice Age. Carbon dioxide emissions, global warming, ocean acidification, habitat destruction, extinction and wide scale natural resource extraction are all signs indicating we have significantly modified our planet.

Human impact on the planet

If truth be told, humans have impacted the planet in so many ways. Some might still deny it, but we are the ones to blame for the climate crisis. Climate change is real and is happening now, worryingly faster than predicted. It might not seem like it’s something to feel concerned with just now, but it ought to be. As a result of climate change, the planet continues to get warmer. According to Nasa, 2020 was the hottest year on record, effectively tying 2016, the previous record. Rapidly increasing

environmental issues including heat waves, storms and rising sea levels directly harm animals and destroy the world around us. It might be difficult for us as individuals to visualise and comprehend the long-term effects of the climate crisis, but they are only decades away from hitting us. This is a huge issue that needs to be addressed. 

Signs of the anthropocene

The signs of the Anthropocene are much more than just climate change. As individuals, we need to be aware of the current state of the planet and the effects that we have on it. Our actions are a key factor in the Anthropocene, and there are considerable signs of it all around us. We just need to look at modern agriculture, the use of fertilizers on crops have doubled in the last century. These chemicals are damaging our land and soil. New modern materials that we use in everyday life are another common factor; concrete, plastic and aluminium. Plastic could become a key marker of the Anthropocene. Developed in the 1900s, plastic is now produced at a worrying rate of 500 million tonnes a year. Because plastic doesn’t biodegrade, it ends up littering soils and ocean beds. 

Is there hope for the planet? 

There is no planet B, so we need to act now! This is the first time a single species has caused such devastating effects on the planet. Species are becoming extinct at a significantly faster rate than they ever have before. Don’t worry, there is still hope; as individuals, we can take action to save the planet. We can buy less, reuse and recycle more, even move towards a plant-based diet and ensure what we do use and consume is as sustainable as possible. If we all make sure that we are doing our bit, there is hope to save planet Earth.